Moving Naturalism Forward videos now online

May 27, 2018 • 2:30 pm

Six years ago about 20 people attended a Moving Naturalism Forward conference in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (see my posts here, here and here, with a travel post here). Organized by physicist Sean Carroll, its aim was expressed in the conference title: to define the aims of naturalism and point out fruitful directions.

I’m not sure whether it did that, but it was pretty much fun, although the scientists there, like Steven Weinberg, Richard Dawkins, Janna Levin, and me, sometimes got either baffled or frustrated by the assertions and musings of the philosophers (participants are here). But the company was good and I met some interesting people, plus I got to sit next to a Nobel Laureate, who scribbled physics equations on paper during much of the meeting).

For me the epic bit was my battle with Daniel Dennett over free will (with the Great Man shamelessly insisting that he go first after we’d agreed otherwise), a battle that continued during the entire three-hour post-meeting drive from Stockbridge to Boston (remember the song with that phrase in it?). Dan, who can be rather forceful, insisted that a). compatibilism was good and b). it gave us true moral responsibility. I’m still proud that I, a puny worm, held out against his stentorian lucubrations, and I remember well the last words Dan said to me when I exited the car in Cambridge: “I’M NOT THROUGH WITH YOU YET!”


And I still remember well Weinberg expressing amazement that—despite his being an atheist, physicist and determinist—there wasn’t contracausal free will.

At any rate, it’s been a while, and I don’t want to relive it–especially my part–but Sean has made the videos available with an introduction that’s indented below. Go see them if you’re game:

The arc of the natural universe is long, but it bends toward getting things finished. More than five years after our Stockbridge workshop, I have finally succeeded in (finding a competent editor who would take on the job of) wrestling the long video proceedings from Moving Naturalism Forward down to a collection of short, content-focused videos. You can find them on the web page:

Just click on the various Video categories on the sidebar to the left.

There are over eighty videos here, of median length around 5 minutes. Some consist of one person giving an argument for a point of view, others capture a back-and-forth conversation between a few of us on some specific topic.

Enormous thanks to my friend Gia Mora, who did all the work here. She knows all of our voices by now much better than anyone should be asked to.

Comments welcome, and please do share with potentially interested audiences.

Consider it shared!

8 thoughts on “Moving Naturalism Forward videos now online

  1. Excellent timing! I’ve been planning to dig deeper into free will in the last few days, as I had found myself discussing the subject with a rather skeptical audience (most recently just a couple of hours ago). And since my own arguments don’t even satisfy me, I might just force them to co-watch these videos instead, ha!

  2. Now the first of December was covered with snow and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston.
    Though the Berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frosting with ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go.

    Sweet Baby James by James Taylor

  3. I seem to remember from watching it a few years ago that you and Massimo P. actually reached some sort of (perhaps tenuous) accommodation.

    I also remember being a bit disappointed in Prof. Weinberg’s presentation. The man’s brilliant, quite obviously, but he didn’t seem to engage that deeply with the topic he had selected for himself.

  4. Thanks for sharing. From the introductions I have found several new people to read. Rebecca Goldstein will ne first. Then perhaps Alex Rosenberg. I have read one or more books by several participants in the workshop but some are completely new. WEIT is a great site for new information. I will watch the clips of discussions over the next few days.

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