'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

Sep 292014

Choice vs. Free ChoiceWords, words, and more words! The different ways people think about words and terms often gets in our way. A response someone might have to another who claims there is no free will is “we make choices”, as if such choice making is “free will”.

What must be understood, however, is the distinction between “making choices” and “making a free choice”. And the distinction here is very important. And the word “choice” isn’t the only word that is often conflated. Take a look at this short list for a few examples:

  • Choice vs. Free Choice
  • Will vs. Free Will
  • Agency vs. Free Agency
  • Decision vs. Free Decision

There is an extremely important distinction between each of these. Lacking free will does not mean we A) don’t make choices, B) don’t causally will, C) don’t have agency, and D) don’t make decisions. Continue reading »

Sep 262014

Spotted Unicorn and Free Will - BOTH FANTASY!

I made a digital illustration of a fantasy unicorn type creature (for the fun of it) and thought it would be fun to add a little free will silliness to it….since it is a “fantasy” scene after all. The original will eventually be going on my art website at TricksPlace.com – and it will be without the little free will creature and text bubble when I put it there. Yes, I don’t just do philosophy, I do art as well. 😉 Continue reading »

Sep 232014

Buridan's Ass - Breaking the Free Will IllusionImagine a scenario in which you open up the refrigerator door and see two different food items. In that very moment it happens to turn out that:

A) You only want one of the items


B) You desire each food item equally

In this imaginary scenario, there is nothing for B) that is weighing your decision of one food item over another food item. One isn’t more fattening than the other, one wouldn’t taste better than the other, there is no differences in texture, size, quantity, smell, or color that would make you decide on one over the other. The location of each food item is equally desirable – in other words, there is no food item sitting by the other that would cause a decision for one over the other. There is no psychological response to the one food over the other. One isn’t closer, easier to grab, and so on.

This thought experiment is similar to Buridan’s ass, a (so called) “paradox” in the philosophy of free will. Buridan’s ass, named after 14th century French philosopher Jean Buridan, addresses a hypothetical donkey who is both equally hungry as it is thirsty. And when I say “equally”, I mean absolutely equal in every way possible. The donkey is placed in the exact center-point between a hay stack and a pale of water. It has no momentum either way, equally understands the existence of both, and neither is closer than the other (which this donkey does not assess one as closer than the other in any way – even mistakenly).

As the hypothetical goes, the donkey would both die of starvation and thirst since it cannot make a rational decision to choose one or the other. Continue reading »

Sep 122014


In my book Breaking the Free Will Illusion, I have a chapter titled “Quantum Misunderstandings and Contrivances”. In it I touch upon the fact that in quantum mechanics (which addresses the smallest particles and their behavior) there are numerous “interpretations” surrounding what certain experiments show, and surrounding the mathematics used to describe this scale. These interpretations are rightly called “quantum interpretations”, and they compete with each other. Some are deterministic (meaning entirely causal), others are indeterministic (meaning some events don’t have causes), and others are agnostic on whether all events have a cause or not.

The fact of the matter is, we just don’t know which interpretation is the best model of reality. They each have their unintuitive problems. Regardless of this, I delve into why none of them can help grant free will.

One of these interpretations, however, is so un-evidentary that it really can’t be taken too seriously. Yet I’ve come across many occasion when someone will invoke this interpretation as a savior of free will.  The interpretation I’m talking about is called the many-worlds interpretation (also known as many-universes or many-histories interpretation). Though all of the interpretations are speculative, this interpretation speculates on “worlds” that are impossible to prove. A huge no-no in science.  But worse than that, not only does it not grant free will, but out of all of the processes it is the most fatalistic. Continue reading »

Sep 052014

Some people ask why free will doesn’t exist. They often don’t even know the very basics to these questions (or where to look to find answers). Point them to this InfoGraphic so they can get a quick visual snapshot (and then hopefully they will look into the matter more). Feel free to download and share this InfoGraphic (please do not alter it) on any website , social media, and so on. And please educate people in this important topic!

Why there is NO FREE WILL - InfoGraphic

Above is the official “basics” to why free will doesn’t exist. Of course the basics don’t entail all of the details, but such is a “snapshot” for why free will doesn’t exist to give newbies to the topic a “jumpstart”. It gives a quick overview of the definition of free will that is of importance, and why such ability is impossible. It explains that such is logically incompatible for both determinism and indeterminism, and the parts of the ability that are problematic. It also gives a brief summary of those huge topics that the belief in free will embeds itself into.

I give anyone permission to download, use, and share this InfoGraphic in it’s unaltered state. I’d appreciate a link back to this page or website if at all possible.

If you haven’t ordered your copy of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind, do so today! It’s in Kindle and paperback versions. And if you like what’s in it (which I think you will), I’d be grateful for a review on Amazon.com.



Sep 032014

possibility in a deterministic universe

If you don’t already know, I’m a hard incompatibilist. This means I think free will is logically incoherent in both a deterministic universe as well as an indeterministic universe. In this post, I just want to address if the universe is a “deterministic universe”, meaning entirely causal (all events have a cause), and what such would mean for the word “possibility”.

There are different branches of philosophy. One of these branches is called “epistemology” which is the branch that is concerned with the nature of knowledge. In other words, what we can know, how we can know it, and so on. Another is called “ontology” which is the branch that is concerned with existence (or “being”, “becoming”, “reality”). In other words, it addresses what exists, how it exists, if something cannot exist, and so on.

These two branches are more often conflated than not. People address epistemology when they should be addressing ontology, or ontology for epistemological usages of words. This is very problematic and causes great confusion.

To give an example of how these are used, the claim “rocks exist in the box” is an ontological claim. The claim that “a heavy box is probably filled with rocks” is epistemological. We may not know (epistemology) that the box is filled with rocks, but either they do exist (ontology) in the box or they do not. Continue reading »

Aug 202014

Free Will Illusion Fairy

Naturalism is the belief that nothing exists outside of the natural world.  Many people denote that if naturalism is true (which I believe is the case) that the laws that govern the universe are what make everything happen. That everything which happens in the universe is a physical play out through time. And that means everything single thing, including our conscious thought and decision-making. That these happenings aren’t some magical exceptions to the physics of the universe. In such a natural universe, things such as “free will” just don’t make sense. If our decisions are tied to the physical processes of the universe, then we only have a say in them in so far as the physical processes output what we will say about them. In other words, what we think, feel, say, and do are all an output of how the universe is playing out (both large scale and small scale processes).

And even if we accept that some events don’t have a cause (e.g. certain interpretations of quantum mechanics), those un-caused events are just part of the physical process that we still have no control over.

Though I agree with such analysis for various reasons, I think the incoherence of free will has a much wider reach. In other words, we don’t have to accept a naturalistic worldview to understand that free will doesn’t make any sense what-so-ever.

We just need to understand that an event (something “happening”) must either have a cause (be an output of something that already exists), or not have a cause (just happen – not the output of anything in existence). These are the only two possibilities for events. Not just “naturalistic” events, but any event. A so-called “supernatural” event simply can’t escape this dichotomy. Continue reading »

Aug 052014


Click Pic for Attribution 

I want to yell this from the rooftops to all of those people who conflate reductionism with hard determinism. Determinism is not reductionistic! Okay…not literally yell it from the rooftops as (the majority) of people who aren’t into philosophy would just think “huh”? But you get the point. :)

For people who don’t already know, hard determinism states that since every event is causal, free will is incompatible with such. I don’t label myself as a Hard Determinist, but rather a Hard Incompatibilist (Meaning free will is incompatible in both a deterministic univerese as well as an indeterministic universe), but either way neither implies a reductionistic framework.

Reductionism, at it’s stripped away base, means that everything can be reduced down to it’s parts. And there are reductionists out there who think everything is just the “small bits” bouncing around. Some even say large scale objects don’t really exist due to this.

This is what I call “extreme reductionism”.  The rejection of what those parts make up due to being able to reduce an object to the parts. And it’s a big, ginormous, whopping mistake from what I can tell.

And some of these people not only reject free will (which they are absolutely correct in doing so), but they also reject consciousness itself and say that is an “illusion”. Let’s just disregard the fact that you can’t have an illusion without consciousness, so the illusion of consciousness is within an illusion of consciousness within an illusion of consciousness, so on ad absurdum.

But why is this reductionistic framework a mistake? Because we know otherwise. We know that parts make up wholes which have an actual effect on the parts themself. That simply isn’t possible without extending existence to the very wholes that the parts make up. Continue reading »

Aug 022014


Labels exist, and in philosophy there is way too much jargon. That being said, many people know some terms that they might label a person and are unfamiliar with others that they never will. It seems the word “determinism” is common enough for many people who have an interest in the topic of free will and some even know what “hard determinism” is. On the other hand the term “Hard Incompatibilism” isn’t as spread around as these other words. And though it has differing usages, it’s been adopted by Derk Pereboom (Living Without Free Will) and others to address indeterminism as well.

When someone learns you don’t believe in free will, one of two things seem to spring to mind. Either they think your position is a religious one, meaning that since God knows everything you can’t have free will. In other words you believe in predestination “fated” by a deity (which would be true if such an all knowing deity existed). Or they think you are a hard  determinist: that you believe every event has a cause and that due to this our decisions stem back in time to causes that precede back to the start of time. Continue reading »

Jul 302014


If you look at the title of my book “Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind” (now on both Kindle and Paperback) you’ll recognize two distinct parts. The first part addresses specifically free will. It denotes it as an “illusion”, and it denotes it as one that can be “broken”. The next part talks about “bettering humankind”.  But what does it mean to say something is “better”, or there is a “betterment”, or that humankind is “better off”?

Notice the book does not say “for the betterment of me” or “for the betterment of you”. I’m addressing humankind in a more general sense, and though it will most likely be better for me and you for various reasons, this is important. What is better for a general population may not be what is better for every single individual within that population. I might say that it is better for the people of a given society to stop serial killers, but for the serial killer (who is a single person within that society) – it probably wouldn’t be “better”.

Preference is often assumed in the word “better”. For me, chocolate icecream is better than vanilla icecream; for another, vanilla would be better. Some might say classical music is better than rock and roll, or vice-versa. Continue reading »