Category Archives: free will

Free will: the only kind worth wanting

Reader Michael from the UK sent this poster, which gave him a double take. His notes: I was in my GP’s waiting room this morning & my eyes were drawn to a poster on the noticeboard similar to the one below.  Your free will posts have so thoroughly meme-iated my head that it took me a […]

A new paper suggesting that belief in determinism makes you more empathic and less vindictive

Even though all rational people know that determinism rules human behavior, and in that sense there is no possibility of “choosing otherwise” at a moment of decision—absent quantum effects, which don’t in any way give us “free will”—this conclusion disturbs some people. Our sense of agency is so strong that it’s impossible for many of […]

Saturday: Hili dialogue

The weekend is here, it’s Saturday, January 7 (2017), and the temperature is a balmy 3°F ( -16 °C) in Chicago. It’s National Tempura Day in the U.S., and it’s Christmas in some countries, like Russia, that adhere to the Eastern Orthodox calendar. On this day in 1927, the first transatlantic phone service was established, […]

Another word on free will: does compulsion eliminate it?

In my post on the Annual Edge Question the other day, which gave a link to my short piece on “determinism” on the Edge website, reader Coel made this comment: A hope for the new year is that some commenters here might persuade PCC-E that many compatibilists do not see compatibilist notions of “free will” […]

Richard Gunderman at The Conversation: our ability to lie shows that the mind is physically independent of the brain (!)

UPDATE: As the first comment in the thread (by Coel) shows, I was correct in assuming there’s a religiosity to Gunderman’s argument: he’s a trustee of the Christian Theological Seminary. Further, someone who once knew him emailed me and described him as “ultra religious.” ________________________ The motto of the site The Conversation is “academic rigor, […]

A big dust-up about marijuana between Maajid Nawaz and Peter Hitchens, with a note on free will

UPDATE: Note that Peter Hitchens himself has responded to this post, somewhat acrimoniously, at this link in the comments below. He’s not banned or anything, so feel free to address his remarks. Maybe he’ll respond; who knows? _________________ Here’s an interesting—and acrimonious—conversation between Maajid Nawaz, who apparently has a program on Britain’s LBC Radio, and […]

Sean Carroll on free will

Yes, I know some of you are thinking “Oh, no—not another post on free will!” Well, if you’re one of those, you know what to do: just don’t read any further. I write about what interests me; and the free will debate, which is a rare nexus of of science, religion, and philosophy, is interesting. Plus […]

Once again with free will: a question for readers

I swear, it’s harder to convince the average person that their behaviors and “choices” are determined solely by the laws of physics—and not by some kind of dualistic “ghost in the machine”—than it is to convince the average religionist that there’s no evidence for God. That’s because not only do goddies have a special reason to […]

Misconceptions about determinism, illustrated

Over at the website Evolving Perspectives, reader Pliny the in between has a new cartoon called “Nuts and bolts of crime and punishment“. It illustrates one of the many misconceptions people have about science-based determinism and its rejection of libertarian free will: that under determinism is useless to try to change anything since everything is […]

ID advocates mock determinism, insist on libertarian free will and human exceptionalism

The boys over at the Discovery Institute (DI) spend a lot of time mocking me online, but I rarely pay attention. And when I do, I’m sort of flattered, and for two reasons: they think that what I write here is important enough to attack, and because when those creationist mushbrains go after me, I know I’m doing […]