Do we really have freedom to act, or are we slaves to our genes, environment or culture? Regular TPM columnist Mathew Iredale gets to grips with one of the most intractable issues in philosophy: the problem of free will. Iredale explores what it is about the free will problem that makes it so hard to resolve and argues that the only acceptable solution to the free will problem must be one that is consistent with what science tells us about the world. It is here, maintains Iredale, that too many works on free will, introductory or otherwise, fall down, by focusing only on how free will relates to determinism. Iredale shows that there are clear areas of scientific research which are directly and significantly relevant to free will in a way that does not involve determinism. Although these areas of scientific research do not allow us to solve the problem, they do allow us to separate the more plausible ideas concerning free will from the less plausible.
Table of Contents
1. The Gordian Knot 2. What is Free Will? 3. Obscure and Panicky Metaphysics 4. A Glaring Absurdity 5. Weeds in the Garden of Forking Paths 6. A Wretched Subterfuge 7. The Quagmire of Evasion 8. Of Puppies and Polyps 9. Two Overridden and Wearied Nags 10. Conclusion