Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Free will: Do I really have a choice in posting this?

As my 'science & religion' co-teacher Laura Sizer can testify, I try my best to avoid any discussion about free will. Its totally fine if I don't have free-will - but please don't tell me that I don't have it. So to my horror, the lead story in Science Times today is about free-will:
Free Will: Now you Have it, Now you Don't (NYT 1/2/07)

Its actually a good summary of the debate and it quite rightly points out that if people are uncomfortable about evolution, wait till they hear questions about free will:

“Is it an illusion? That’s the question,” said Michael Silberstein, a science philosopher at Elizabethtown College in Maryland. Another question, he added, is whether talking about this in public will fan the culture wars.

“If people freak at evolution, etc.,” he wrote in an e-mail message, “how much more will they freak if scientists and philosophers tell them they are nothing more than sophisticated meat machines, and is that conclusion now clearly warranted or is it premature?”

Daniel C. Dennett, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at Tufts University who has written extensively about free will, said that “when we consider whether free will is an illusion or reality, we are looking into an abyss. What seems to confront us is a plunge into nihilism and despair.”

Mark Hallett, a researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, said, “Free will does exist, but it’s a perception, not a power or a driving force. People experience free will. They have the sense they are free.

“The more you scrutinize it, the more you realize you don’t have it,” he said.

Follow your will and read the full article as it takes you through lab experiments, cosmology, and computational concepts about free will.


Anonymous said...

Laura Sizer is really retarded. How she claims to be a philosopher is completely baffling. Her study of moods and positive affect has no validity beyond simply some corporate funded research project on workplace productivity.

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