The necessary attributes of a responsible agent

Dominoes falling in a sequence

George Ellis has an article at Aeon on free will that is garnering some attention.  Ellis' case is a fairly classic one.  Brain are complex systems whose operations, due to chaotic and stochastic dynamics, cannot be predicted.  Furthermore, minds constrain the detailed physical reactions, a case of downward causation.  And if that weren't enough, there's … Continue reading The necessary attributes of a responsible agent

Libertarian free will is incoherent, and that’s good for responsibility

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCGtkDzELAI For a while, I'd considered myself done debating free will, having expressed everything about it I had to say.  However, with this Crash Course video, and in light of the discussion on physicality we had earlier this summer, I realized I do have some additional thoughts on it. Just a quick reminder: I'm a compatibilist.  I'm convinced … Continue reading Libertarian free will is incoherent, and that’s good for responsibility

The number of senses, free will, and productive reality

Christian Jarrett has an interesting article at BBC Future on the number of senses that we have. The principle of five basic human senses is often traced back to Aristotle’s De Anima (On the Soul), in which he devotes a separate chapter to vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste. Today, the five senses are considered … Continue reading The number of senses, free will, and productive reality

Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

The free will debate has been going on for millenia and, like most philosophical debates, shows little chance of being settled anytime soon.  A significant part of the debate is definitional: what do we mean when we say "free will."  We can argue endlessly about what the term should mean, but it turns out that what most … Continue reading Free will persists even if your brain made you do it

What are your philosophical positions?

Tina at Diotima's Ladder put up a very cool entry: What’s Your Philosophy? | Diotima's Ladder. BLOGGING EVENT! Tell the world. Don’t be shy. Yes, we’re used to piggy-backing off the famous philosophers, and that’s why I came up with this prompt. Those well-versed in philosophy will appreciate a grassroots approach, even those who spend every … Continue reading What are your philosophical positions?

Two Brothers – Existential Comics

Existential comics explores a common truth about life.  Click through for the full version. via Two Brothers - Existential Comics. It took me a long time to recognize the truth this comic explores.  Whatever path in life we choose, we'll always wonder what could have been.  And we'll always feel some regret for missing out on that … Continue reading Two Brothers – Existential Comics

People attribute free will to mind, not soul

Broadly speaking, there are two conceptions of free will.  The first is libertarian free will, where one has metaphysical freedom from the laws of nature in making decisions.  Libertarianism is usually understood to require mind-body dualism, in other words, a non-material soul. The second is compatibilist free will, which generally recognizes that thoughts arise from the brain … Continue reading People attribute free will to mind, not soul