Publication Year: 2014
Published by: The MIT Press
Series: MIT Press Essential Knowledge
Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication
The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers accessible, concise, beautifully produced pocket-size books on topics of current interest. Written by leading thinkers, the books in this series deliver expert overviews of subjects that range from the cultural and the historical to the scientific...
I would like to thank the following people (mostly family members) for offering helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this book: Ellen Balaguer, Marcella Balaguer, Melchor Balaguer, Paul Balaguer, Judy Feldmann, Michael McKenna, and two anonymous...
In the last few years, several people have argued that science has shown us that human beings don’t have free will. People like Daniel Wegner (a Harvard psychologist) and Sam Harris (a neuroscientist and the author of various “popular philosophy” books) claim that certain scientific...
2. The Case Against Free Will
I want to start by presenting the arguments against free
will. Later, I’ll try to figure out whether these arguments
are any good, but in this chapter, I just want to formulate
the arguments in the strongest way I can, as the enemies
of free will conceive of them.
The central idea behind the...
3. Can Religion Save Free Will?
It might seem that we could respond to the arguments against free will by adopting the spiritual, religious view of humans. In particular, you might think we could respond by saying something like...
4. Can Philosophy Save Free Will?
Unlike psychologists and neuroscientists, most professional philosophers believe in free will. And most of them endorse the same response to the anti-free-will arguments. The view that these philosophers endorse is known as...
5. What Is Free Will, Anyway?
In the last chapter, we distinguished two kinds of free will—Hume-style free will and not-predetermined free will. It’s pretty obvious that we have Hume-style free will, but this isn’t very interesting. The interesting question is whether we also have not-predetermined free will. This is...
6. Can We Block the Random-or-Predetermined Argument Against Free Will?
Now that we know what free will would consist in, we need to move on to the task of figuring out whether we actually have it. The problem, of course, is that the two arguments against free will (the scientific argument and the random-or-predetermined argument) still stand. And...
7. Can We Block the Scientific Argument Against Free Will?
It’s finally time to assess the scientific argument against free will and to decide whether it gives us a good reason to deny the existence of free will. In a nutshell, the scientific argument proceeds as...
If what I’ve argued in this book is right, then the anti-free-will arguments that have been put forward recently by philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists simply don’t work. And so we don’t have any good reason to doubt the existence of free...