Free Will every Friday

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POSTED: May 4, 2021

Recently I read a Guardian Long Read by Oliver Burkeman asking “The clockwork universe: is free will an illusion?

I worried about this all weekend. Well, not exactly “worried” and not exactly “all weekend”. More accurately I thought about it a bit before falling asleep on Sunday night.

The article does what many articles do: it misunderstands some of the subtleties in Daniel Dennett’s thinking in the same lazy way that journalists and commentators used to misunderstand the subtleties in Marshall McLuhan’s thinking.

Or maybe it simply seems too hard to explain.

Burkeman quotes Dennett as saying that the compatibilist version of free will counts as the only kind of “free will worth wanting”, and then later claims that Dennett does believe in free will without addressing exactly what kind of free will he might ascribe to.

Personally I feel that worrying about whether you have free will or not misses the point. Which remains “what exactly do you mean by you”?