Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Dan Dennett tutors Sam Harris on Free Will
A review of Sam Harris's Free Will by Daniel C. Dennett at Naturalism.org:
[Sam Harris] is not alone among scientists in coming to the conclusion that the ancient idea of free will is not just confused but also a major obstacle to social reform. His brief essay is, however, the most sustained attempt to develop this theme, which can also be found in remarks and essays by such heavyweight scientists as the 2 neuroscientists Wolf Singer and Chris Frith, the psychologists Steven Pinker and
Paul Bloom, the physicists Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein, and the evolutionary biologists Jerry Coyne and (when he’s not thinking carefully) Richard Dawkins.
The book is, thus, valuable as a compact and compelling expression of an opinion widely shared by eminent scientists these days. It is also valuable, as I will show, as a veritable museum of mistakes, none of them new and all of them seductive—alluring enough to lull the critical faculties of this host of brilliant thinkers who do not make a profession of thinking about free will. And, to be sure, these mistakes have also been made, sometimes for centuries, by philosophers themselves. But I think we have made some progress in philosophy of late, and Harris and others need to do their homework if they want to engage with the best
thought on the topic.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 05:08 AM | Permalink