British Skeptics Lead the Charge against Contra-Causal Free Will

Jonathan Pearce ("Is Society Accepting that Free Will Is an Illusion?" and his book Free Will?) and James Miles (his book The Free Will Delusion reviewed in "No Choice in the Matter") are part of a growing movement challenging contra-causal free will. 

Here are two good reads (links to PDFs below) illustrating the growing secular skepticism about free will, construed as the idea that human beings are causal exceptions to nature. Gradually, and I hope inexorably, the realization will take hold universally that there is a full causal story behind all behavior, even if we can't know all the details. This understanding will help generate compassion for the unlucky in life, reform our notions of credit and blame, and give us greater power and control as we seek solutions to the challenges ahead.  Quoting Pearce:

There is something fundamentally useful about knowing that the world is, in some way, deterministic (whether one buys into quantum indeterminacy or not). When I see or hear of a criminal committing a crime, a child misbehaving (which I regularly do as a teacher), or a machine doing something unexpected, I know that there is a reason, or a set for reasons, for these outcomes. I don’t throw my hands up and wonder about the fickle universe we live in, with its unfathomable penchant for free will. No, there is causality at play, and by knowing this, we can, as a society, seek to understand what drives us and seek to know what changes to people’s causal circumstances will bring about a better world for us all.

"Causality at play" - yes, always, and understanding the what and the why of it is the key. Jonathan Pearce's Free Inquiry article is here, his book here, and the review of James Miles' book here.

TWC 9 20 15

PS: The British skeptical wave also includes Richard Oerton's wonderful book The Nonsense of Free Willreviewed here. And although he's not British, see the good work of Trick Slattery at his Breaking the Free Will Illusion book and blog. 



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