There is a special kind of stupid achievable only by the intelligent (I resemble this remark). I’d ask you to pardon me for such a harsh statement, except that I can’t.
I didn’t have a choice but to say it. You didn’t have a choice in how you reacted to it. And if philosophy professor Tamler Sommers is right, nobody has any choice in anything they do.
Sommers says “recent advances in cognitive neuroscience” show that we must “abandon the deeply problematic concept of free will and ultimate moral responsibility.” We “feel free” and “We feel responsible”, but we are not.
One reason we don’t choose to leave behind the belief we can make choices is “is that the ethical implications of denying free will and moral responsibility seem terrifying.”
That sentence might not have been clear, so let me restate it. Sommers argues we have to abandon the idea we choose our actions. Only then will we make better choices. If we accept we are not morally responsible for our behavior, then our behavior will become more moral.
Be Not Afraid
There is not much sense in those renditions, either. Because there is no sense in Sommers’s position. If we cannot make choices, we cannot make choices. We can’t freely acknowledge we can’t make choices if we can’t make choices. If we are not morally responsible for what we do, then there are no immoral or moral acts.
Sommers is not alone in disbelieving in free will. Many modern philosophers agree with him. They acknowledge we common folk feel like we have free will, but they argue we are suffering an illusion.
Yet this is impossible. In order to have the “illusion” of making a free choice, a person had to have the ability to freely make a choice. As Alfred R. Mele says in Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will, “If there is an illusion…it’s the illusion that there’s strong scientific evidence for the nonexistence of free will.”
There just is no philosophically consistent argument against free will. The acres of paper darkened with ink on this subject always end in absurd spectacle: a philosopher arguing why you have to freely choose to not believe in free will. And the implied farcical cry, “I do not have free will!”
The First Mistake
Why do philosophers like Sommers make this mistake? For two reasons.
The first is […]
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