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CategoryFree will

Sculpture portrait of Aristotle

Sean Carroll: “How Could an Immaterial Mind Affect the Body?”

The well known physicist thinks free will is nonsense. But has he investigated the classical understanding of causation?

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Johns Hopkins University who takes an atheist and materialist philosophical perspective on nature and on science. I have disagreed with him often — I’m in no position to judge his scientific acumen, but his philosophical acumen leaves a lot to be desired. An example of this is a question he asks in a recent documentary about free will (which I haven’t watched yet). In the trailer for the movie, Carroll asks, How in the world does the immaterial mind affect the physical body? Carroll’s denial of libertarian free will is based on this question, and of course, he believes that the immaterial mind does not exist and, if it did exist, could not Read More ›

Guilty dog and a destroyed teddy bear at home. Staffordshire terrier lies among a torn fluffy toy, funny guilty look

Do Animals, as Well as Humans, Have Free Will?

One can make a case for animal free will in the strict sense that no life form is bound by complete determinism because it doesn't exist

In 2009, University of Würzburg biology professor Martin Heisenberg wrote a defense of animal free will in Nature, basing his argument on the behavior of flies: For example, my lab has demonstrated that fruit flies, in situations they have never encountered, can modify their expectations about the consequences of their actions. They can solve problems that no individual fly in the evolutionary history of the species has solved before. Our experiments show that they actively initiate behaviour4. Like humans who can paint with their toes, we have found that flies can be made to use several different motor outputs to escape a life-threatening danger or to visually stabilize their orientation in space. Heisenberg, M. Is free will an illusion?. Nature Read More ›