Category Archives: philosophy

Once more: Why Christian List’s “proof of free will” fails

I’ve already written twice about the views of Christian List on free will, views called to my attention by Michael Shermer (see here and here). My interpretation of List’s views are that while he’s a physical determinist for molecules, he thinks that there is true libertarian “you could have done otherwise” free will on the […]

More about Christian List’s confusing views of free will

Yesterday I analyzed the free-will ideas of Dr. Christian List, a professor of political science and philosophy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In a long conversation with Michael Shermer, he expressed what I saw as his belief in libertarian free will that was still compatible with pure physical determinism of molecules. […]

Oy! : A completely incoherent defense of free will

I almost never listen to podcasts or podcast-style videos simply because I can read faster than I can listen to people talk, and because podcasts are invariably about 1.5 hours long, which is TL:DL for me. But I didn’t listen to nearly all of the following video (the beginning isn’t relevant) as Michael Shermer sent […]

A misguided attack on scientism in Quillette

How many times do I have to criticize attacks on scientism, all of which use various permutations of the same three claims? Here they are: 1.) There are “other ways of knowing” that don’t involve science. These often involve “why” questions, like “Why am I here? (i.e. what is my purpose?)” or “Why is the […]

My newest piece in Quillette: Another response to John Staddon

My contretemps in the pages of Quillette continues with the psychobiologist John Staddon. I hope this is the end of it, as it’s no fun to write what I’ve written many times before to criticize a man who’s repeating old and tedious arguments that have been rebutted many times before. But so great is Staddon’s […]

Once again, John Staddon maintains that religious morality is superior to secular morality

John Staddon and I have been having “words” in Quillette. It began with Staddon’s piece “Is Secular Humanism a Religion?“, a question he answered in the affirmative, even though secular humanism violated two of Staddon’s three defining traits of religion. I thus responded both here and then in a rebuttal in Quillette, “Secular Humanism is not a […]

Disbelief about belief: why secular academics have trouble believing that jihadis are motivated by religion

My friend and colleague Maarten Boudry, a Belgian philosopher (my only philosophy paper was coauthored with him) has a new, short piece published in the New English Review about why academics like Robert Pape and similar apologists have such trouble understanding that religious terrorists really can be motivated by religion (click on screenshot).  (Our earlier […]

Two philosophers guilty of “philosophism” with respect to brain differences and free will

If “scientism” is the bad tendency of scientists to pronounce on matters outside their bailiwick, them I hereby proffer a new term: “philosophism“. And I define it as “the practice of philosophers pronouncing on matters outside their expertise”.  In the article below from the Irish Times, two philosophers Helen Beebee (University of Manchester) and Michael […]

How do we deal with anti-Semitic philosophers of past centuries?

Here is a strange but timely article from the New York Times‘s philosophy column, “The Stone.” Laurie Shrage, a professor of philosophy at Florida International University, asks how we should deal with the palpable anti-Semitism of early philosophers. But in the course of her lucubrations, she conflates four distinct questions. Read the piece by clicking […]

Is there evidence for libertarian free will? Part 2.

Earlier today I discussed some of my problems with Alfred Mele’s 2014 book Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will. Like Dan Dennett, I agree that the book is somewhat tainted by being funded by and associated with a foundation (Templeton) that undoubtedly loves Mele’s ideas, but I’m not at all accusing Mele of writing […]