Category Free Will and Determinism

Free Will as Background Noise in the Brain

A new light has been cast on one of philosophy’s most profound debates: Do we have free will, and if so where does it come from?

Free will seems pretty obvious. When we make a decision we feel like we’re actually making a choice, not as though a confluence of our genetic inheritance and environmental factors have made it inevitable that we will take the path we do. However, whether this is really the case is much less clear. The more we learn about the factors that cause people to act in certain ways the easier it is to question if there is any choice involved.

Bob Doyle’s ‘two-stage’ model of free will

The Information Philosopher, Bob Doyle, who has also written a book called The Scandal of Free Will has proposed a two-stage model of free will based on the thinking of William James. I bring this up because previous and infamous ATP commenter, JohnM (John Muze) has been commenting on the Unbelievable forum on facebook about it. It is his knight in shining armour which supposedly gives him the free will for which he argued so vociferously and badly when he commented here.

Guest Post: Losing the Belief in Free Will is for the Best – ‘Trick Slattery

I cam across ‘Trick Slattery some years ago on facebook and whatnot due to his similarity of philosophy concerning free will and determinism. Indeed, he was kind enough to buy my book when it first came out. Back then, he was writing his own book, or ruminating on it. Well, he has written it and has released it on Kindle. I will read it over the next week or so and review if for ‘Trick. He has guest posted here to coincide with the book’s release.

Have I killed someone?

Causality. It is a funny thing. Or not so funny.

A few years back, I took my class, as a teacher, on a class trip to the Historic Dockyard in the naval city of Portsmouth, UK. My school is some 45 minutes walk and a short ferry ride from there. With the cost of coaches, it is important to be able to walk to such places to keep the costs down for parents.

I am speaking (on free will) at the Brighton Fringe Festival

Brighton Fringe is the largest arts festival in England and one of the largest fringe festivals in the world. It sets out to stimulate, educate and entertain a wide audience by providing a showcase for diverse art forms. Everyone can take part, in fact, whilst enjoying a friendly and supportive environment. And all this in an iconic city with unique cultural heritage.

Dennett, Harris and Free Will

Daniel Dennett has finally responded (it has been long-awaited) to Sam Harris’s short treatise Free Will. The review can be found at the Center for Naturalism, here. I am going to look at what Dennett says, and what Harris’s idea of free will is compared to Dennett. Essentially, whilst there is lots to like about what Dennett says, there is also much I disagree with.

Explanatory scope of free will

So I have a question. I will detail the following research. For ‘free will’ to be true, it has to explain the following. Or more accurately, the following has to be fully explicable within the free will hypothesis. How does it do that?

Guest Post by Fiona Cooke – “Left or Right? Questioning the ‘I’.”

The Tippling Philosophers group that I frequent has a collection of very differing viewpoints, from reductionist style physicalism to Christianity; agnosticism to various degrees of spiritualism. Fiona, who is posting here, has had an interesting journey. She has had, and continues to have, experience with Eastern worldviews and practices (including yoga and meditation, and Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism). This comes through in her post. But what is interesting is her acceptance fairly recently of the illusion of free will, and how this has affected her take on, well, herself. The ever illusive “I”.

Nature trumps nurture in exam success: GCSE results ‘mainly determined by genes,’ says landmark study of twins

Genetics has a more powerful influence on pupils’ GCSE exam results than teachers, schools or family environment, according to a new study published tonight.

Researchers from King’s College London found that genetic differences account for 58 per cent of the differences between pupils’ GCSE exam scores – while environment (home or school) only accounted for 29 per cent. They also found boys’ results were more likely to reflect their genes than girls.

Fearful Memories Passed Down to Mouse Descendants

Certain fears can be inherited through the generations, a provocative study of micereports. The authors suggest that a similar phenomenon could influence anxiety and addiction in humans. But some researchers are sceptical of the findings because a biological mechanism that explains the phenomenon has not been identified.