A sourcebook/textbook on the problem of free will and determinism. Contains a history of the free will problem, a taxonomy of current free will positions, the standard argument against free will, the physics, biology, and neuroscience of free will, the most plausible and practical solution of the problem, and reviews of the work of the leading determinist Ted Honderich, the leading libertarian Robert Kane, the well-known compatibilist Daniel Dennett, and the determinism-agnostic Alfred Mele.
Research into two-stage models of “free will” – first “free” random generation of alternative possibilities, followed by “willed” adequately determined decisions consistent with character, values, and desires – suggests that William James was in 1884 the first of a dozen philosophers and scientists to propose such a two-stage model for free will. We review the later work to establish James’s priority. By limiting chance to the generation of alternative possibilities, James was the first to overcome the standard two-part argument against (...) free will, i.e., that the will is either determined or random. James gave it elements of both, to establish freedom but preserve responsibility. We show that James was influenced by Darwin’s model of natural selection, as were most recent thinkers with a two-stage model. In view of James’s famous decision to make his first act of freedom a choice to believe that his will is free, it is most fitting to celebrate James’s priority in the free will debates by naming the two-stage model – first chance, then choice -“Jamesian” free will. (shrink)
A survey of popular textbooks and websites on philosophy produces a remarkable consensus on the great problems facing philosophers from ancient to modern times. They typically include metaphysics - what is there?, the problem of knowledge - how do we know what exists?, the mind/body problem - can an immaterial mind move the material body?, the “hard problem” of consciousness, freedom of the will, theories of ethics - is there an objective universal Good?, and problems from theology - does God (...) exist?, is God responsible for evil? This book introduces the Information Philosopher website, a work in progress on several classic questions in philosophy that logical positivists and analytic language philosophers thought they could dis-solve as logical puzzles, pseudo-problems, or conceptual errors. (shrink)