Jan 302017

Rewind-Time-AnalogyThere is a common complaint that I’ve heard by more than one free will believer: when asked to think about “if all events are caused (deterministic) and if we could bring back time to some point before a decision was made, could the person have decided differently?”, some people complain that “well we can’t do this”. They note that it is impossible to rewind time or to travel in time to before the decision. They note that we “cannot test this”.

This response, however, is one that misses the point entirely. The point isn’t about whether we can have the ability to “rewind or reset time” or “physically test it”. The point isn’t a claim about time travel, or magical powers over time. Rather, Continue reading »

Feb 082016

I’m a proponent for the logical case that if one is postulating a cause and effect relationship, without any non-caused event interaction, then what I call “must lead to” causality follows logically if the cause itself is not to hold a contradiction. “Must lead to” causality is, in formal language, called sufficient causality (a term I’m not fond of), which means that if a cause takes place, it must lead to a specific effect and no other effect instead. Continue reading »

Dec 142015

possibility-confusionsThe word “possibility” can be used in two different ways: ways that are quite often confused and conflated, leading to some huge errors in thought. This is even done by very intelligent people.

One way has to do with our uncertainty about the future. Due to our limited prediction capabilities, we often look at and call future events in which we think at the time “could happen” as a “possibility”. This type of possibility I’ll call “epistemic possibility” as “epistemic” assesses our “knowledge or lack of knowledge” over the possibility.

It’s important to note that “possibility” in this epistemic sense does not necessarily align with whether something was a real possibility. Continue reading »

Nov 232015

whos-it-up-toThis post may seem a little strange, but it was prompted by a few conversations I had with some other free will skeptics. I bring this up almost as a way to say that just because two people agree on fundamental topics such as free will, doesn’t mean they make the same conclusions about other topics.

Once we understand that free will is an illusion and that things are not ultimately up to us”, I know of a few free will skeptics who quite often ask this question:

 “If things are not ultimately up to us, who or what then are they up to?”

This article is going to go over why such a question is a loaded question, and also how it suggest quite an incoherent idea – that being there can be something that things are up to in some ultimate way. Continue reading »

Nov 022015


For this ‘just after’ Halloween post I’ll be moving outside of reality and talk about how souls, spirits, and ghosts cannot be free will mechanisms. I bring this up because someone who had read my book liked it very much, but felt that the section on “supernaturalism” was a little thin. They felt that the book made a strong case for the materialistic account of a lack of free will, but that someone’s “soul” could support some sort of “free will” mechanism. Continue reading »

Oct 262015


The question that often comes up in the free will debate is whether  the universe is deterministic or indeterministic. Regardless of which one, I argue, free will is entirely incompatible. In a deterministic universe we couldn’t have done otherwise, and in an indeterministic universe that would allow for a change in variables that lead to an otherwise, those indeterministic variables wouldn’t have been “of our own accord” or “up to us”. In other words, we couldn’t have, of our own accord, done otherwise.

But this isn’t enough for some people. Some want to insist that the universe is causally deterministic… period… no questions asked. Others insist on the opposite, that the universe is indeterministic (suggesting that determinism has been “disproven”). It seems being agnostic on these just isn’t good enough for a whole lot of people.

So which is it? Is the universe deterministic or is it indeterministic? And if we don’t know, are one of these options more likely than the other? Rather than give you a direct answer (as I am agnostic here), for this post I want to get into some key talking points that I feel are often missed. Continue reading »

Apr 162015

necessary vs sufficient causalityThere are so many words used to label certain philosophical concepts that I truly hate with a passion! I don’t hate the actual concepts themself, just what was, somewhere down the philosophical line, used to label such concepts. Often the labels I hate are the ones that use words that have ambiguous meanings elsewhere. This offers so much confusion to so many people.

When getting into the topic of free will, one must deal with the concept of causality. Within that one concept, there are many labels I disdain.  Today I’m going to address “sufficient” and “necessary” causality, as the understanding of these are important. The words “necessary” and “sufficient”, however, are anything but helpful. There are other ideas surrounding causality that have horrible labels as well, for example, “accidental” vs “essential” causality. And no, such words do not imply that a cause happens by accident or that one happens to be less essential to the output. Continue reading »