what he said…

July 24, 2010

The question of free will is one that rears its ugly (in a very interesting way) head often in the realm of psychology. The notion of free will (or illusion of free will, depending on who you talk to) relates to a myriad of issues concerning human behavior: development, learning, consciousness, morality, etc… In several classes, we engage with aspects of the free will debate, but rarely have an opportunity to deal with it wholeheartedly. That is what is good about philosophers – they make a career of dealing with these thorny issues…

In a recent opinion piece in the New York Times (link here), Galen Strawson, a professor of philosophy at Reading University in the good ol’ United Kingdom, takes some time out to provide a primer on some of the issues related to free will. As this is philosophical, do not expect much in the way of “data” and “theory”. Instead, he provides some logical arguments that outline his view that “free will” as most envision it is not possible, and yet we have a need to feel it is so. The first part of that (the argument against free will) is fairly clear, but the second part (why we need it) is less well developed. I guess you’ll have to work on that part yourself.


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