Is Dennett rethinking free will?

Posted on April 4, 2014 by


Coyne seems to be adopting agnosticism with regards to free will. This is far from FW skepticism. Maybe Dennett is right to call him a “closet compatibilist”. I look forward to reading Dennett’s critique.

Why Evolution Is True

Reader Jiten called my attention to this post by Gregg Caruso on Flickers of Freedom about Dan Dennett’s comment on Free Will—a comment that appeared in a discussion in the journal Methode.

I admit that I haven’t yet read Dan’s whole piece, but Caruso gives an interesting excerpt, which suggests that Dennett may be rethinking the issue of free will. (As you probably know if you’re a regular here, Dan is a “compatibilist,” who feel that free will is absolutely compatible with physical determinism. He’s written two books taking this position, Freedom Evolves and Elbow Room.

Caruso quotes Dennett on the disparity between compatibilism and incompatibilism, a difference that seems semantic but in my view has repercussions for how we deal with punishment and reward in our society:

“The problem with answering this question is that the everyday concept of free will, to which we must somehow anchor whatever philosophizing we…

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