Free Will with Ryan Born
This week we’ve got Ryan Born, who you may remember as the winner of the Sam Harris essay contest. Ryan is a philosopher who runs the blog http://pointofcontroversy.com. Last time we spoke, Ryan had a ton to teach us about Moral Philosophy. This time though, we’re here to discuss a very different topic, but one he is well versed in. Ryan Born has worked with the philosopher Eddy Nahmias. Nahmias wrote a very interesting review of Harris’s book, which can be found here: http://blog.talkingphilosophy.com/?p=5208. Nahmias has done some unique work on determining just what normal people actually think free will is. As you will find out, this may be very relevant to the debate between Harris and Dennett.
In this discussion, we explore the definition of free will. Ryan is very concerned with the question of what most people believe the definition to be. The disagreement between Harris and Dennett may simply amount to a difference in opinion as to what most people believe free will ought to be. Are most people naturally compatibilist? Or would most people say that determinism makes free will impossible? Or, is this information really relevant? Should we just be discussing what the definition of free will ought to be? As we found out in previous episodes, Harris has accused Dennett of a bait and switch, where Dennett is taking the old, damaged definition of free will and switching it out with a new better version that is compatible with Determinism. Ryan Born sees this as a totally justified move, but Harris sees the concept as far too damaged to simply substitute out. Harris alleges that the classical conception of free will is so wrong and so prevalent that Dennett cannot simply reinvent it because he will no longer be referring to the same experience everyone believes they have.