Category Archives: philosophy

Philosopher: Do not sign petitions

Agnes Callard is one of my colleagues: an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago. She was recently asked to sign a petition opposing the deplatforming of philosophers who didn’t share ideologically acceptable views of sex and gender. Although I agree with that petition, Callard didn’t sign it—but not because she disagreed with […]

More mishigas about free will, this time in the TLS

The Times Literary Supplement, which I used to write for, doesn’t often make its articles free online, but this one was (click on screenshot below to see it). And it’s about free will: a review of three books on the topic (The Limits of Free Will: Selected essays by Paul Russell, Aspects of Agency: Decisions, […]

Philosophy professor writes embarrassing prayer in NYT, asking God not to stop shootings, but to make us better people so we won’t shoot each other

I haven’t read “The Stone”—the philosophy column of the New York Times—in quite a while, but I seem to remember that it was very soft on faith and very hard on atheism. Well, today’s piece, by George Yancy, continues that tradition. (Yancy is a philosophy professor at Emory University, specializing in in critical whiteness studies, critical […]

Another philosopher in Quillette goes after my determinism, and proposes a compatibilist definition of “free will”

Not long ago I read a piece in Quillette, “The Academic Quarrel over Determinism,” written by William Edwards, described as an “independent scholar” and “founder of Bright Tapestry Data, a company pushing back on misinformation and fake news.” Edwards’ piece, about determinism and free will, seemed pretty muddled, and wound up arguing that even if […]

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 […]