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Old 07-05-2011, 04:04 PM
Jay J Jay J is offline
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Little Rock, AR
Posts: 436
Default Re: Science Saturday: Egos on Parade (Robert Wright & John Horgan)


Allow me to piggy-back a bit on what you said in your comment.

John says that the difference between free will and God is that in our everyday lives, we experience free will but not God. This is a *VERY* weak argument (and I might add frustrating coming from someone who sees himself as a guardian of rational thought; there's a thing about glass houses).

If John wants to stomp his foot (and stop short of solipsism, which we more or less all want to do) then the only thing we can really assert with 100% confidence is that we have experience (sentience). I think we should be very suspicious of theories of mind insofar as they deny or are agnostic on whether or not we're sentient. But free will does not follow. The fact that I have experience just means that I have experience. But the particulars aren't as undeniable. I feel like I have free will, but that doesn't mean I have it.

Worrying over whether denying free will is unhealthy (or whether we could successfully implement the belief in our lives without damaging our sense of self or responsibility) is a classical fallacy of relevance. In other words, the worry is not truth-tracking. Sure, it tracks the truth of *some* topic, namely, how our beliefs on life's deepest questions impact our lives, but it has nothing to do with whether or not we actually have free will.

If I convinced myself that free will is an illusion, and really meditated on that fact, perhaps I would fail to be a very productive person, or perhaps it would take away the subjective sense of zest my life previously possessed. But so what? It's enough to make ya say, "What's that got to do with the price a tea in China?"

The effects of fatalism is a different topic than free will vs. determinism. They're not the same. They're different. John explains that he's concerned with preserving the concept of choice, but that's a personal issue he's projecting onto the topic.

John says it's "obvious" to him that we have options before us, that we know we can take one option or the other. He's incredulous that Bob might think that his internal deliberations aren't the primary cause of what he does. ***But that's what's in question***

To top it all off, in this clip,

John explicitly denies that the effects of a belief aren't the same as whether a belief is true. Wow!! I hope that this was said in haste, because if not, it's faith par excellence.

(And John has the gall to say the view he opposes engages in "sophistry!")
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