Displaying 1120 of 20 comments.
I would have enjoyed some analysis of why Harris et al feel compelled to confront ideas of free will. So far as I can tell, most of the 'New Atheist' sorts identify, in one way or another, with the Western liberal tradition, which has generally had a strong libertarian (in the political, not necessarily philosophical sense) strand to it, even in its current sublimated, statist forms. A recognition of human freedom in some sense seems to be required for adherence to the liberal tradition and the whole panoply of rights-language and political ideology and practice inherent therein: all things I don't imagine a Harris or a Hitchens or whoever would wish to deny. Why then seek to undermine the seeming basis of one's guiding political ideology? How do the New Atheists reconcile the (perhaps) inherent anti-liberalism of some of their philosophical constructions with their strong commitment to contemporary liberalism as the guiding principle of the State?
Harris's a priori assumptions are just as silly as Plantinga's perfectly good god.
I wrote a detailed response to Dr. Plantinga's article here -- http://www.siftingtothetruth.com/2013/01/16/plantinga-on-free-will/
I have worked with disfunctional families. What is seen is one generation significantly affects the next. Example: Dad was sexually abused growing up. He goes on to sexually abuse his son; Mom was physically abused by her family. She goes on to physically abuse her own children and so on and so on. Even though these people did not enjoy/like what happened to them as children AND they know it is wrong, they do so to their offspring.
What explanation works other than their decision, "free will", is based on factors that created the person that they are?
I agree with David McCarter's comment above. It's similar to trying to convert others to one's own philsophy of solipsism.
I extend the argument to religion in general.
Best definition of religion: "The awe in which one holds one's ignorance."
Louis T Klauder Jr
I think that a world of personhood has given rise to and is more fundamental than the worlds of logic, mathematics, and physics, and I wonder if there exists a literature that is predicated on that idea and that seeks to develop what might be called a calculus of personhood. I suppose that Christian and Jewish theologies provide such a literature and calculus. For someone who accepts one of those theologies I imagine that an engagement with Harris could take a form somewhat different than that offered in this essay.
Thanks for pointing out the crucial either/or polemical thinking of Mr. Harris:
"Either our wills are determined by prior causes and we are not responsible for them, or they are the product of chance and we are not responsible for them."
I have been unable to understand the assertion that the self determines totally the self in a manner completely prohibitive of freedom & chance. Specificaaly how is that known, moreover, how is it known to an outside commentator, say Harris? Apart from it's stunning circularity.
As identities are different so are are the grounds for choice and decision making, the denigration of both is therefore based on ignorance and speculation. The capacity for evalulation of phenomena is hardly deterministic, the working of mind and/or brain, the composite, totalistic experience of a person goes into, and per case considers, action & thought. Influence yes, space for volition, indeed.
I can't resist, if Harris believes this then he had no choice but to write what he did, where goes objective validity? I know that's an old one, but no less pertinent.
The following is not a sound argument: "You deny freedom, but the way you define freedom isn't the way I define freedom. Besides, if we define it your way, nobody would have it. If nobody is free, then nobody can be blamed for doing bad things, at least not the way we usually blame people. Besides, the only person I respect that doesn't think like me on this issue is Jonathan Edwards, and it's cool nowadays to assert that he's the greatest American mind and yet disagree with him. We now know that moral responsibility is important. They didn't know that back then...."
Also, I'm not sure Harris would mind the God-as-the-author-of-evil contingency.
I always think it is a bit comical when someone seeks to convince me that there is no freee will. Why bother?
* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.