Coming to Terms with Determinism

Talk summary: One common conception of free will has it that if causal determinism is true, we can’t be free, what’s sometimes called the problem of free will and determinism. As a result, determinism – reliable cause and effect relations – is widely viewed as a threat to autonomy and responsibility. In this talk I aim to rehabilitate the reputation of determinism, showing how a pragmatic (not universal) determinism is not only true, but offers a practical and ethical perspective on human agency.


See here for a French translation of a brief introduction to worldview naturalism and naturalistic spirituality. Many thanks to Noe Ismet for the translation.

Pragmatic determinism: could you have done otherwise?

Let’s say you take a completely deterministic view of your personal development and current behavior. Looking back on a particular choice or action, you agree that it was the fully caused outcome of all the conditions in play, such that were we to replay the situation, all conditions set the same, the same outcome would have transpired. This means you couldn’t have done other than what you did in that situation.

Dennett and the Reality of Red

It’s good to have a canonical, in-print version of Dan Dennett’s latest thinking on consciousness (chapter 14 of his latest book) to which those who’ve followed his work over the years can respond. He presents a physicalist case against qualia by considering the experience of an afterimage: red stripes generated by looking at a green and black striped image of an American flag. Here are some key features of his view:


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