2008-08-28

Freedom Evolves

Of my own free will, I've been reading Daniel Dennet's Freedom Evolves.

The later chapters of Dennet's book were more convincing than the first chapters, but the book was interesting all the way through. Dennet tried to convince me that even in a deterministic universe, things can be avoided, and the important features of free-will are preserved. I just couldn't go along with this argument. Surely, in a deterministic world, all events are pre-determined, and one doesn't really have freedom of choice.

The later chapters give a multiverse approach to crime and punishment. I really liked this idea. It says that if most of the nearby universes lead to a particular event, you shouldn't be held responsible for it. However, if there are thick clumps of universes nearby that don't lead to that event, then you can be said to be responsible. In other words, if you had done things a bit differently the thing wouldn't have happened.

Dennet doesn't call it a 'multiverse approach', and he doesn't describe it as I have, this is just my take on it.

With all this free will stuff going on in my mind, my interest was piqued by an article on determinism and subatomic particles. DDC has convinced me that indeterminism does not necessarily imply free will. This article seems to conflate the two.

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