Tag free will

Libertarian Free Will and the Principle of Alternate Possibilities

So I am arguing in many different forums at the moment about free will, and in particular, about whether Libertarian Free Will (LFW) is compatible with the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

i define LFW here as the ability to choose otherwise. That means I invoke the Principle of Alternate Possibilities. This means that given a particular situation (CC1), I could choose A or B, and if we rewound time to CC1, and given that everything would remain the same in CC1 (ceteris paribus), then the agent could somehow choose differently, invoking a freedom of the will.

Interview with Tom Clark of the Center For Naturalism

Tom Clark is the Director for the Center for Naturalism (CFN), an organisation which harbours the excellent resource Naturalism.Org. The Mission for CFN is stated as follows:

The Center for Naturalism (CFN) is an educational and advocacy organization devoted to increasing public awareness of naturalism and its implications for social and personal well-being. The CFN seeks to foster the understanding that human beings and their behavior are fully caused, entirely natural phenomena, and that human flourishing is best achieved in the light of such understanding.

Bad Decisions Arise from Faulty Information, Not Faulty Brain Circuits

Some research out seems to support an idea that ‘bad decisions’ that we make are as a result of the quality of the information coming in rather than the quality of the systems working on that information. Of course, this may call into question the quality of the systems actually responsible for collecting that data. The chicken and the egg scenario seems to persist here. Science Daily:
Apr. 15, 2013 — Making decisions involves a gradual accumulation of facts that support one choice or another. A person choosing a college might weigh factors such as course selection, institutional reputation and the quality of future job prospects.

Schopenhauer on free will

Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills.

I’ve always liked this quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, so much so that I thought I’d post it here, though it does have a few forms and is often misquoted, as I have no doubt done.

Talk on free will is really well received

I was lucky enough to be asked back to the Dorset Humanists, based in Bournemouth, UK, to give a talk on free will. I had previously given them a talk on the Nativity, based on my book, The Nativity: A Critical Examination. They appeared to enjoy it enough to ask me back, and I obliged.

Brain Scans Might Predict Future Criminal Behavior

What is frustrating about this article is the fact that Science Daily produced it and I saw it just as I returned from giving a talk on free will to the Dorset Humanists. Grr. I talked about similar predicitve pieces of research, such as lack of fear conditioning in toddlers and criminal records, as in Gao et al, whose research concluded:

New Studies Link Gene to Selfish Behavior in Kids, Find Other Children Natural Givers

Can’t believe I missed this one. Interesting, and something I will bring up in my talk tonight on free will at Southampton University to the Atheist Society. Research into prosocial (kind) behaviour is always interesting, and something I have documented here, here and here. there is a mix of genetic and environmental influences with this one. It seems that talking to children about giving, about kindness, is more important than role-modeling when measuring children’s kindness. Of course, children who do not have these environmental influences will be at a disadvantage to others who have, and these are variables outside of their control.

Language – who’s choosing my words?

I find this amazing. Language. I can have a 45 minute conversation with a friend. Neither of us consciously think up individual words. Our word choices (even as I am typing this) are non-consciously chosen. At 150 words a minute, that’s a lot of words decided upon non-consciously. I generally appear to be listening to my own words when they come out.

Gregg Caruso’s “Free Will and Consciousness” Reviewed

I recently came across Gregg Caruso’s book Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will. Gregg dropped me a line after coming across my blog and we got chatting. I have not read this book yet, but it seems to ally itself pretty strongly with my first book, Free Will?. Below is a review by Andrei A. Buckareff of Marist College. The book is aimed at academics in the field, but seems accessible to anyone with a working knowledge of the free will discipline. I said I’d post the review for him. Check it out:

My last talk is now a podcast: “Free Will?”

My last public talk which I gave, on free will, has now been made into a podcast which can be heard here. The talk, given to Portsmouth Skeptics in a Pub on 14th June 2012, was a nice informal gathering of about 50-odd people of varying skeptical persuasions. I have not listened to it yet, but the Q and A was an interesting and challenging time with some good questions which I think I dealt with pretty well.

Free Will: “We are influenced, but not determined” – the 80-20% approach as nonsense

One of the most common defences of Libertarian Free Will (or contra-causal free will) is what I sometimes term the 80-20% approach. Most people, to some degree or another, accept that our lives are at least somewhat, and in most cases, a good deal influenced. This may be by genetic, biological or environmental factors. But it is hard to deny that, at the point of making a decision, we aren’t having our decision influenced by external or internal motivators. This is expressed often as a claim like ”Well, we are influenced quite a bit, but we still have some degree of free will” or “I think we are 80% determined, but 20% of our decision-making is freely willed”.