Category Archives: free will

Am I the bad cop?

Apparently so! Matthew sent me this strip from Existential Comics with the note, “You are Bad Cop.”  (Click to enlarge; it’s gonna overlap with website text on the right.) I am sad. . . .

Tom Clark on the upside of determinism

Reader Tom Clark, who runs the site and comments here on that topic, gave a lecture last winter on determinism, and I’ve put the video below. The YouTube notes say this: Talk given for the Campus Atheist and Secular Humanists at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Nov. 2, 2017. For a related article, see “Fully […]

Why do intellectuals avoid discussing free will and determinism?

One thing that’s struck me while interacting with various Scholars of Repute is how uncomfortable many get when they have to discuss free will. I’m not talking about Dan Dennett here, as of course he’s a compatibilist and is glad to cross swords with anybody—while admitting sotto voce that yes, we could not have chosen […]

Raoul Martinez on free will and the implications of determinism

I’ve published related talks by polymath Raoul Martinez before (see here), but not this one: a 17.5-minute talk delivered in 2013 and called “Creating freedom.” It has only a bit more than 36,000 views, and given the importance of its message, it deserves more. I suppose it’s because it’s delivered in a very low key manner, […]

E. O. Wilson: confused about free will

An article in the September 14 Harper’s, “On Free Will (and How the Brain is like a Colony of Ants”), gives an excerpt from Wilson’s book released that year, The Meaning of Human Existence.  In the piece and the passage below, Wilson appears to be a sort of compatibilist, but I find his discussion so […]

The myth of responsibility and the lottery of life

This four-minute video on free will and responsibility, narrated by polymath Raoul Martinez, was posted by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce (RSA). Martinez’s point is one I’ve made here many times, and will surely get pushback from: determinism rules human behavior, and our “choices” are all predetermined by […]

Robert Sapolsky takes on free will in “Behave”

I wasn’t able to finish Robert Sapolsky’s relatively new book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, for two reasons. First, I found the opening several hundred pages pretty boring. Despite Sapolsky’s valiant attempt to write engagingly—and he can do so in places—the material was a tedious disquisition on hormones, neurons, and other material […]

Clarification: Weinstein post

I wrote my post on Harvey Weinstein typing as fast as I could as we were getting ready to board our plane, and would have made it more concise (and hopefully more thoughtful) if I was able to brain faster. The point I was trying to make was simply this: regardless of whether someone commits […]

Harvey Weinstein, creep or psychopath?

As always, when I write this kind of column about determinism, and in particular about the behavior of Harvey Weinstein, I must begin by saying that his behavior was reprehensible, immensely harmful, and warrants severe punishment, judicially so if the courts find him guilty of rape or sexual assault. I weep for the women who […]

Dawkins and Krauss on free will

One thing that’s distressed me a bit is the unwillingness of my Big Name Atheist Friends to speak frankly about free will. When asked, as Richard Dawkins was below, what they think of it, they often mumble or deflect the question. Richard’s answer here is the same one he gave when I asked him the […]