Nov 302015
 

free-will-justifies-retributionThe notion that someone deserves what they have coming to them is a key factor in the justification of retribution.

The main difference between retribution and revenge is that retribution is often referred to in the more legal context that looks to punish a person in way that is  “proportional to the crime” they committed. Retribution is also called retributive justice, and it plays a large role in the criminal system of most countries. 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 162015
 

its-not-your-faultIf you’ve ever seen the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting you’ll probably remember the powerful scene where the psychologist Maguire, played by Robin Williams, tells Will, a mathematical genius played by Matt Damon, that “It’s not your fault”. At first Will shrugs it off with an “I know” but Maguire ignores the attempts to shrug it of and re-enforces the idea that Will is not to blame. He knows the weight of such a burden on Will even if Will claims to already know that it isn’t his fault. Continue reading »

Nov 022015
 

souls-no-free-will

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
 

deterministic-universe

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 »

Oct 122015
 

free-will-compatibilism-vs-skepticism

This post is going to be about some of the problems with free will compatibilist (re)definitions that certain philosophers (which is different than layperson compatibilist intuitions) have. So what is “free will compatibilism”? It’s basically the idea that free will is compatible with a causally deterministic universe (and that indeterminism doesn’t account for free will). For compatibilist philosophers this is accomplished through a redefinition of free will. It’s basically a way to say that, even if our decisions are caused, the fact that we have certain causal processes which can include such things as wanting, desiring, thinking, and rational deliberation, and the fact that sometimes those processes are not prevented in some way by (“free” from) a force such as a person with a gun, a drug addiction, or something similar – that in such a context we can label that “free will”. Continue reading »