Free Will (book)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Free Will
Free Will, first edition.jpg
Author Sam Harris
Country United States
Language English
Subject Free will
Published 2012
Media type Print
ISBN 978-1451683400
Preceded by Lying
Followed by Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion

Free Will is a 2012 book by American neuroscientist and author Sam Harris. Harris argues that the truth about the human mind (that free will is an illusion) does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of political and social freedom, and can as well as should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.[1][2][3][4]

Overview[edit]

Harris says the idea of free will "cannot be mapped on to any conceivable reality" and is incoherent.[5][6] According to Harris, science "reveals you to be a biochemical puppet."[7] People's thoughts and intentions, Harris says, "emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control." Every choice we make is made as a result of preceding causes. These choices we make are determined by those causes, and are therefore not really choices at all. Harris also draws a distinction between conscious and unconscious reactions to the world. Even without free will, consciousness has an important role to play in the choices we make. Harris argues that this realization about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.

Critique[edit]

The book has undergone some critique.[8][9][10][11][12]

The author uses the Libet argument, which has been challenged by Adrian G. Guggisberg and Annaïs Mottaz.[13] A study by Aaron Schurger and colleagues published in PNAS[14] challenged assumptions about the causal nature of the readiness potential itself (and the "pre-movement buildup" of neural activity in general), thus denying the conclusions drawn from studies such as Libet's[15] and Fried's.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Menaker, Daniel (2012-07-13). "'Free Will,' by Sam Harris". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  2. ^ "Book Review: Sam Harris' Free Will". American Humanist Association. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  3. ^ "Will This Post Make Sam Harris Change His Mind About Free Will?". blogs.scientificamerican.com. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  4. ^ "How free is the will? Sam Harris misses his mark". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved 2015-10-31. 
  5. ^ Pardi, Paul (May 15, 2012). "An Analysis of Sam Harris' Free Will". Philosophy News.
  6. ^ Harris, Sam. "Free Will and "Free Will"". SamHarris.Org. Retrieved 18 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Nahmias, Eddy (August 13, 2012). "Does Contemporary Neuroscience Support or Challenge the Reality of Free Will?" Big Questions Online.
  8. ^ https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/will-this-post-make-sam-harris-change-his-mind-about-free-will/
  9. ^ Pardi, Paul (May 15, 2012). "An Analysis of Sam Harris' Free Will". Philosophy News.
  10. ^ https://aphilosopherstake.com/2012/07/29/free-will-why-sam-harris-needs-to-read-more-philosophy/
  11. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/04/26/3489758.htm
  12. ^ https://cct.biola.edu/sam-harris-free-will-book-review/
  13. ^ Guggisberg, AG; Mottaz, A (2013). "Timing and awareness of movement decisions: does consciousness really come too late?". Front Hum Neurosci. 7: 385. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00385. PMC 3746176Freely accessible. PMID 23966921. 
  14. ^ http://www.pnas.org/content/109/42/E2904/1
  15. ^ Libet, Benjamin; Gleason, Curtis A.; Wright, Elwood W.; Pearl, Dennis K. (1983). "Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Onset of Cerebral Activity (Readiness-Potential)". Brain. 106 (3): 623–42. doi:10.1093/brain/106.3.623. PMID 6640273. 
  16. ^ Fried, Itzhak; Mukamel, Roy; Kreiman, Gabriel (2011). "Internally Generated Preactivation of Single Neurons in Human Medial Frontal Cortex Predicts Volition". Neuron. 69 (3): 548–62. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.045. PMC 3052770Freely accessible. PMID 21315264.