Category Archives: free will

Gregg Caruso on free will, the justice system, prisons, the meaning of life, and the good life

The New Philosopher has a long interview, “On Purpose,” with Zan Boag speaking to the philosopher Gregg D. Caruso, Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning, Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Macquarie University, and Co-Director of the Justice Without Retribution Network (JWRN) at the University of Aberdeen School of Law. Although I’ve never met Caruso, I […]

George Ellis responds to my criticism of his argument for free will

Yesterday I posted a critique of an Aeon article by physicist George Ellis, arguing that science itself gives evidence for true libertarian free will. This rests on his claim that psychology exerts a “top-down” effect on molecules, and those top-down effects, because they stem from our thinking, our experiences, and our personalities (all subsumed under […]

Another paper claiming (but failing) to give evidence for libertarian free will

UPDATE: Reader Coel pointed out in the comments—this had escaped my notice—that the author of this piece, George Ellis, won the Templeton prize in 2004 for efforts in harmonizing science and religion. This may be relevant to the article below. Part of his citation says this: Beyond ethics, Ellis contends that there are many areas […]

Sapolsky interview redux (and SpaceX launch/docking)

Most of the issues plaguing this website were resolved by WordPress yesterday, but the site was inaccessible for much of the day. I thus invite you to comment on yesterday’s post about Robert Sapolsky’s Scientific American interview on free will. Comments were few for this kind of post; the paucity is either due to reader […]

Robert Sapolsky on (the lack of) free will and its consequences

Here’s a 43-minute Scientific American podcast in which Stanford biology professor, author, and atheist Robert Sapolsky is interviewed by Robert Mirsky. Many of us have read Sapolsky’s recent book Behave: The Biology of Humans at our Best and Worst, and Mirsky centers the talk on one of Sapolsky’s chapters from that book on behavior and […]

Another ludicrous “Thought of the Day” from the BBC: The Bishop of Manchester assures us that we have libertarian free will

I’ve long known that BBC Radio 4 broadcasts a religious homily every day at a bit before 8 a.m. I’ve heard it many times, and grumble loudly at each homily. Yesterday, reader Neil called my attention to a particularly galling homily given yesterday by the Right Reverend Dr. David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester. It […]

Sean Carroll on the shows “Westworld” and “Devs”: free will, simulations, and multiverses

In the May 4 New York Times, culture reporter Reggie Ugwu interviewed Sean Carroll about the recent television series “Westworld” (HBO) and “Devs” (FX on Hulu). Sean watched both shows and gives his reactions, then discusses the premises of the shows.  Since I’ve seen only two episodes of one show (“Westworld”), and none of the […]

A very short story on (the absence of) free will

This story was published in Nature some years ago and called to my attention by reader David. The author is the well known science fiction writer Ted Chiang, and though the story is 15 years old, it’s not only still relevant but, like the best sci-fi, makes you think hard. The story was published two […]

A new BBC video on free will

The BBC has just begun a video series on free will, and, thanks to reader Tom C., I got a link to part 1 of 3. The BBC’s notes are these: There are many forces behind our everyday decisions. In a three part series we look at the hidden powers behind the choices we make. […]

Panpsychism: a big bag of nothing

I was suckered by the Courtier’s Reply of panpsychists like Philip Goff, and so have finished his popular (i.e., trade) book, Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness. I am not going to summarize it or review it at length, as it says little beyond what I’ve summarized previously. It has not convinced […]