Bret Weinstein posted this short video on free will, and then, as often seems to be the case, he added on Twitter that it doesn’t really encapsulate his ideas.
At any rate, in the video Bret says that he accepts free will (without defining it—a necessary first step in any such discussion), and adds that evolution proves that “there’s a basis for free will to exist”. (Do chipmunks and amoebas, then, have free will?) He notes that there are relatively trivial experiments one can run that demonstrate that we must have free will. Really? What are those experiments?
Bret further argues that when Sam Harris says that we don’t have free will, “he’s really talking about something else—it’s a misdefinition of free will.” Misdefinition? Sam (who does define his terms) is talking about libertarian free will: the mistaken feeling we have that we have agency and could have decided other than how we did.
The rest, about whether free will absolves us of moral responsibility, seems to have no connection with the issue of free will, except that Weinstein says that our “free will”, whatever he means by that, comes with “a hefty dose of moral responsibility.” I, of course, accept neither free will in the way Sam construes it, nor the idea that we are “morally responsible” (rather than just “responsible”) for our actions. The word “morally” adds nothing save the misconception that we could have made a choice that was either more or less moral, and that’s not true.
Weinstein’s semi-retraction and then call for a discussion is below. I’m on Sam’s side here, at least as far as I understand what he’s saying. I’m not quite sure what Weinstein is saying, but I think he really needs to write a book and explicate his ideas at length. This would fix his claims that neither his videos nor his statements (like here and here) don’t fully explain what he thinks.
There are just too many podcasts these days, and not enough books. I know people can listen when gardening or driving, but to me there’s nothing like a book for getting your teeth into ideas.
Curiously, the discussion above appears to be on “Christian Radio.”
Happy to discuss. My position is that there are important psychological insights upstream and ethical changes downstream. This isn't just semantics.
— Sam Harris (@SamHarrisOrg) October 18, 2019