Very Bad Wizards

Episode 1: Brains, Robots, and Free Will (Free Will and Morality Pt. 1)

August 30th, 2012

Dave and Tamler start out talking about the new wave of skepticism about free will and moral responsibility in the popular press from people like Sam Harris and Jerry Coyne.  

Neuroscience figures heavily in their arguments, but Dave and Tamler agree that neuroscientific data adds little of substance to the case other than telling us what we already know: human beings are natural biological entities.  Dave also accuses Tamler of being a hipster philosopher for abandoning a view once it got popular. 

Next, we talk about what kind freedom we need to have in order to deserve blame and punishment. Do we need to create ourselves out of the swamps of nothingness? Dave comes out as a Star Trek nerd and asks whether we're all, in the end, like Data the android.  They also wonder whether a belief in free will is all that's keeping us from having sex with our dogs.  

Finally,  Dave grills Tamler about his new book on the differences in attitudes about free will and moral responsibility across cultures. After seeing how long they've been carrying on, they then agree to talk about all the stuff they left out in the next episode.    


Coyne, J.  “Why You Don’t Really Have Free Will.”

Sam Harris. “Free Will.”

Eddy Nahmias.  "Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will?"

Galen Strawson "Luck Swallows Everything."

Support Very Bad Wizards