I’d like to begin by thanking you for taking the time to review Free Will at such length. Publicly engaging me on this topic is certainly preferable to grumbling in private. Your writing is admirably clear, as always, which worries me in this case, because we appear to disagree about a great many things, including the very nature of our disagreement.
Sam Harris has posted a reply to Dan Dennett’s review of his Free Will book. Reading through it, it’s clear the the main bone of contention in this argument is the definition of the term “free will”. As I wrote in my own free will post, definitional arguments are endless and, ultimately, pointless.
Jerry Coyne, who blogs extensively on free will, has also weighed in on this on Harris’s side. Both of them, and many of the people in their camp, take determinism as a unquestioned given. But as I’ve pointed out, determinism isn’t as, well, determined as many assume it to be. Of course, even if it isn’t, that has no bearing on free will, since there’s nothing in random neuron firings for anyone to claim credit for.
So much verbiage over whether or not compatibilism is a useful position. It seems like the debaters could just agree that libertarian free will is false, that compatiblist free will exists, and move on. Yeah, I know, what would be the fun in that 🙂