Well, it looks like my month is up! I'd like to thank you all for the great discussions, and above all, Thomas for inviting me to be here. It was great fun, and an honor to share my work!
Well, it looks like my month is up! I'd like to thank you all for the great discussions, and above all, Thomas for inviting me to be here. It was great fun, and an honor to share my work!
Seeing as the month is rapidly growing to a close, this will unfortunately have to be my final substantive post as Guest Author. In my previous post, I explained how I believe my Libertarian Compatibilist theory of free will addresses the Consequence Argument against free will. In today's post, I would like to briefly sketch how I believe my theory addresses several other notable arguments against free will: (1) the Mind Argument, (2) Luck Argument, (3) Assimilation Argument, (4) Rollback Argument, and (5) Disappearing Agent Argument.
1. Libertarian Compatibilism and the Mind Argument
The Mind Argument, in a nutshell, holds that free will does not exist because our actions are caused by combinations of beliefs and desires, and it is not up to us whether the beliefs and desires that cause our actions occur.
Because I think it's a nice, concise overview of the argument, I'd like to quote Seth Shabo's presentation of the argument. Shabo writes (pp. 293-4):
To set up the relevant version of the Mind Argument, van Inwagen presents this scenario:
Let us consider the case of a hardened thief who, as our story begins, is in the act of lifting the lid of the poor-box in a little country church. He sneers and curses when he sees what a pathetically small sum it contains. Still, business is business: he reaches for the money. Suddently there flashes before his mind's eye a picture of the face of his dying mother and he remembers the promise he made to her on her deathbed to always be honest and upright[...[So]], he thinks the matter over carefully and decides not to take the money (1983, pp. 127-128)
Following van Inwagen, let 'DB' stand for the occurrence of the thief's desire to honor his promise to his mother, together with his belief that repenting and refraining from robbing the poor-box is te way to do this. And let 'R' stand for the thief's act of repenting and deciding to leave empty-handed...
On the assumption that DB alone is causally relevant to the occurrence of R, [van Inwagen] argues that N(R occurred) [i.e. the thief has no choice about R] can be derived from two premises. Thus, we have (p. 147):
(M1) R was caused but not determined by DB, and nothing besides DB was causally relevant to the occurrence of R. [assumption for conditional proof]
(M2) N(DB occurred). [premise]
(M3) If M1 is true, then N(DB occurred . R occurred). [premise]
(M4) N(R occurred). from (M1–M3) [by Rule beta, logic]
(M5) If R was caused but not determined by DB, and nothing besides DB was causally relevant to R’s occurring, the thief had no choice about whether R occurred. [from M1 and M4, by conditional]
Here is a sketch of how I want to respond to the Mind Argument. I believe that my Libertarian Compatibilist theory of free will entails that (M1) and (M2) are both false.
First, (M1) is false if Libertarian Compatibilism is true because on this theory, our beliefs and desires are not the only causally relevant factors to whether R occurs. According to Libertarian Compatibilism, the beliefs and desires we experience are -- much like Kant said -- experiences of physical information outside of us. Although our beliefs and desires incline us to act in various ways, on Libertarian Compatibilism we nevertheless have a brute capacity (outside of the physical world of information) to reflect on our beliefs and desires and decide whether to act upon them.
Second (M2) is false on Libertarian Compatibilism because, on this theory, the beliefs and desires we have now are partly the result of libertarian choices we made in the past (the thief is tempted to steal now in part because he made lots of bad libertarian decisions in the past, and his memory of his promise to his grandmother flashes before his eyes now because of past libertarian decisions that developed -- at least to some small extent -- feelings of conscience.
2. Libertarian Compatibilism and the Luck Argument
Let us now consider the Luck Argument. As Christopher Evan Franklin (p. 201) puts it, we can summarize the Luck Argument as follows:
It is a general assumption of libertarianism that at least some free actions must be undetermined...[and] the core of this problem can be characterized by the following two claims:
(i) If an action is undetermined, then it is a matter of luck.
(ii) If an action is a matter of luck, then it is not free.
Here is a sketch of how I want to respond to this argument. I wish to contest its first assumption: that libertarianism identifies free actions with undermined ones. On my Libertarian Compatibilist theory, are undetermined by physical law -- but they are not undetermined. Our actions, rather, are determined by us, where we are understood as brute, noumenal Kantian pure practical wills. On my account (much as on Kant's own account), we possess the brute capacity to hold principles of action (i.e. maxims) before our conscious minds, and will ourselves to act upon them. There is determination here, and there's even a sense in which it is determination by laws. But, as Kant himself put it, the laws here are -- in a brute, noumenal way -- laws of our own willing.
3. Libertarian Compatibilism and the Assimilation Argument
In two recent papers, Seth Shabo argues that the Luck and Mind Arguments are unsound, but then defends a new argument against libertarian free will: the Assimilation Argument. The Assimilation argument, in a nutshell, is that libertarians cannot "explain how ostensible exercises of free will are relevantly different from randomized outcomes thatnobody would count as exercises of free will." (Shabo 2013, p. 301)
Shabo develops his argument by first having us imagine a subatomic particle with a .5 probability of swerving in one direction rather than another. Clearly, Shabo contends, this is not an instance of free will: it is a randomized outcome. Now, however, move the subatomic particle into someone's (Alice's) brain, and Alice makes something a libertarian wishes to call a free decision not determined by physical law or mere randomness. Shabo's contends, in essence, that libertarians can point to no reason to think that this is ultimately anything more than the kind of randomized, unfree process that occurs with subatomic electrons outside of brains. So, Shabo says, libertarians about free will "cannot plausibly distinguish supposed exercises of free will from random outcomes that nobody would count as exercises of free will." (Shabo 2014, p. 152)
Here is a sketch of how I want to reply to this argument. My Libertarian Compatibilist theory of free will entails that we should observe violations of the normal quantum wave-function in human brains that do not appear to be random outcomes, but rather outcomes reflective of non-random exercises of libertarian free will in a higher reference-frame. According to Libertarian Compatibilism, each person's brain should instantiate its own unique violations of the Schrodinger equation. My brain will instantiate a unique "Marcus Arvan wave-function", Seth Shabo's brain will instantiate a unique "Seth Shabo" wave-function, etc. -- and not only that. As I explained here, just as people playing online simulation can dramatically change their playing strategies mid-game -- giving observers in the game the impression that their character is suddenly obeying new laws of behavior -- Libertarian Compatibilism predicts that when people in our world adopt very new patterns of behavior, their brain's personal wave-function should change...once again reflecting not randomness, but libertarian choice in a higher reference-frame.
4. Libertarian Compatibilism and the Rollback Argument
The Rollback Argument is an argument by van Inwagen similar in some ways to Shabo's Assimilation Argument. In brief, van Inwagen suggests that if we were to roll back an indeterministic universe to its beginning a large number of times, we would observe patterns of actions that appear merely probabilistic, not reflective of libertarian freedom. So, for instance, suppose an indeterminstic law of physics entails that Alice has a .5 probability of choosing A, and a .5 probability of choosing B. If this were the case and the Universe were rewound and replayed from the Big Bang 32,054 times, Alice would choose A in 16,027 of the replayings but B in the other 16,027 -- all of which, again, looks purely probabilistic, not libertarian freedom.
It should be fairly obvious at this point what my sketch to this argument will look like. According to my Libertarian Compatibilist theory of free will, for any given number of times we rollback the Universe, we will not be able to predict, in principle, how many times Alice will choose A or B. This is because Alice's decisions are not determined by any law of nature in the universe, even indeterministic ones. They are settled by Alice's consciousness in a higher reference-frame, in a manner such that, each time the universe is "rolled back", it is completely up to Alice -- and not to any law, probabilistic or otherwise -- to decide what she does next.
5. Libertarian Compatibilism and the Disappearing Agent Argument
My responses to all of these these arguments (including my earlier response to the Consequence Argument) bring us, however, to one final argument against libertarian free will: the Disappearing Agent Argument.
The Disappearing Agent Argument raises, I believe, the most difficult worry of all for libertarianism. Very roughly, the argument is that libertarianism cannot make any sense of how it is agents who make free choices.
To see what the problem is supposed to be, consider how we ordinarily understand intentional action. When we act, we act for reasons. We have beliefs, desires, and intentions. These things seem to comprise our agency. But, according to libertarianism, none of the brain/functional states that comprise our beliefs, desires, or intentions comprise free will. Free will is, according to libertarianism, a brute, unanalysable power X to choose one thing over another. But in that case free will doesn't look like agency at all.
Here is a rough sketch of how I want to respond to this argument. I want to begin by noting how this very problem would appear to observers trapped within an ordinary online videogame (which, again, my P2P Theory of Reality entails our world is functionally identical to). Observers in an online videogame would attribute intentional states to agents in their world (they would ascribe beliefs, desires, and intentions to one another). And yet...some of them -- the libertarians in their midst -- would have the hankering suspicion that the choices agents make in their world are not fully explainable in those terms, but somehow emerge from a kind of libertarian power not explainable in terms of their world's physics. And they would be right. After all, as we well know as the game's users, it is our decisions outside of the game -- in our reference-frame -- which are ultimately responsible for our characters' actions within the game.
Here, I think, is the first thing this shows: what appears to be a "disappearing agent" from one reference-frame ("libertarian free will" to observers within a simulation will appear to be brute powers, unattached to any coherent agential system) can be the result of complex agency in another reference-frame inaccessible from the first.
Obviously, since on my theory our world is functionally identical to a peer-to-peer simulation, this is what I want to say: that, for all we know, the "disappearing agents" of libertarianism are genuine, complex agents in a higher reference-frame to which we have no direct observational access.
Now, of course, the most natural objection to raise at this point is that this move simply bumps up the free will problem from one reference-frame (ours in this world) to a higher reference-frame. Won't whatever agents exist in the higher reference-frame in turn have to obey psychophysical laws in their frame (much as we appear to in our reference-frame outside of the simulations that we play)?
I raised and briefly addressed this issue in "A New Theory of Free Will", and I'm still inclined to stick by what I wrote there. In essence, I suggested that because we do not have direct observational access to the higher reference-frame that partly comprises our reality, there are two possibilities, neither of which we can probably have evidence for over the other:
Obviously, only (2) is genuine libertarian free will. Alternative (1) is just a kind of nested determinism (determinism in our reference-frame brought about by determinism in a higher reference-frame, etc.). Moreover, alternative (2) is admittedly crazy. It is very hard to wrap one's idea around -- or take seriously -- the idea that we are ultimately causa sui, Cartesian souls or some such. And I think it is right to say that this is crazy. As one person recently put it,
"There are thousands of ways to be a compatibilist about free will, but there's only one way to be a libertarian, and it's the crazy way."
Be that as it may, I do not think it is our role as philosophical or scientific inquirers to decide from on high that crazy things aren't true.
First, the more science progresses, the more our world does look absolutely crazy. Quantum mechanics and relativity are both really, really crazy. Second, if my P2P Model of Reality's predictions are verified, we will have real evidence that quantum and relativist craziness are the result of a far deeper -- and crazier -- kind of craziness: namely, our reality being the functional equivalent of a massive peer-to-peer networked computer simulation.
As philosophical and scientific inquirers, we should follow our evidence where it leads. And, I want to say, if my model's predictions are verified, the most that we could ever have empirical evidence for is the disjunction between alternatives (1) and (2): namely, the proposition that either our actions are determined by laws not of our choosing in a higher reference-frame, or we are genuine, libertarian causa sui in that reference-frame (i.e. self-organized, self-caused causes) whose agency (i.e. conscious beliefs, intentions) is self-organized and self-determined.
In any case, even if some (or many) readers aren't willing to take this crazy disjunction seriously, I would to suggest that my theory sheds important new light on several things.
First, if the arguments I have sketched are correct, the Consequence, Mind, Luck, Assimilation, Rollback, and Disappearing Agent arguments can be resolved for our reference-frame (the world we experience) by virtue of phenomena in a higher-reference frame.
Secondly, however, the arguments I have given suggest that the ultimate worry that critics have about libertarianism can never be solved at the level of reference frame. There is, ultimately, only one way way to be a true libertarian about free will, and it is indeed "the crazy way."
Is the crazy way too crazy to take seriously, even as a disjunctive possibility? Again, maybe -- but, as I said before, scientific (and philosophical) progress increasingly seem to me to indicate that the world is truly crazy, and thus, that the crazy way might well be true. If my model's predictions are verified, we live in the functional equivalent of a massive peer-to-peer networked simulation. That is crazy...and if the world is that crazy, it might well be even crazier.
Now that I've spent my last few posts exploring some really speculative implications of my P2P Model of Reality and Libertarian Compatibilist theory of free will (both of which are already speculative!), I'd like to come down a bit closer to earth and discuss some arguments that readers of this blog will find more familiar. I will begin in today's post with the Consequence Argument.
Let us begin with a short passage by Peter van Inwagen outlining the argument. Van Inwagen writes:
If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us. [van Inwagen, p. 16]
Here's a more formalized version, as given by Mike Almeida:
Let L all the laws of nature. Let P be a true proposition describing any event after P*. If determinism is true, then P follows from the conjunction of P* and L. ☐ stands for logical necessity. Assume that determinism is true. Here is van Inwagen’s argument.
1. ☐((P* & L) ⊃ P) assumption
2. ☐(P* ⊃ (L ⊃ P)) 1; modal, prop logic
3. N(P* ⊃ (L ⊃ P)) 2; rule β
4. NP* premise
5. N(L ⊃ P) 3, 4; rule α
6. NL premise
7. NP 5, 6; rule α
In "A New Theory of Free Will", I suggested that my new theory -- Libertarian Compatibilism -- reconciles determinism and libertarian free will, where the latter is understood as a brute capacity to act in ways not determined by physical law. I am, in other words, claiming to "square the circle" that philosophers of free will have been long struggling with. If I am right, libertarian freedom and determinism coherently coexist.
A number of people who have read that paper have remarked to me in person that they are not yet convinced -- and indeed, some of these people have suggested that, as with square circles, I am talking about the impossible. So, let me explain briefly (but, I hope, clearly) how I claim to do it.
Einstein's Trick: Frames of Reference
My argument turns on a pretty neat trick Einstein came up with in developing his theories of relativity (of course, calling it a "neat trick" is putting it mildly - it was a stroke of genius!). Einstein's trick was to show that two apparently inconsistent states of affairs can be rendered consistent so long as each is true vis-a-vis a different reference-frame.
Consider, to begin with, the notions the Einstein was struggling with -- running up his head against -- before inspiration struck and he came up with relativity. Einstein was struggling with the concepts of absolute motion and absolute simultaneity. Prior to relativity, just about everyone (with a few exceptions, such as Poincare and Mach) assumed that motion and time ultimately exist within an absolute reference frame, i.e. Euclidean space and time: an absolute, objective, unchanging background within which objects (things in space) and dynamics (things changing over time) occur. Einstein, however, like many before him, ran into a problem: the speed of light appears the same no matter one's frame of reference, that is, no matter how fast one is moving. Here's an illustration of the problem. If you throw a ball in front of you at 20mph and run after it at 15mph, how fast will it recede from you? Answer: 5mph (20 minus 15). Light is not like this. If you are standing still and shoot a beam of light away from you, you will measure it as receding from you at 186,000 miles-per-second. If, the other hand, you shoot it away from you and chase after it at 185,000mps, how fast will you measure it as receding from you? The natural, intuitive answer, of course, is 1,000mps. But this is wrong. No matter how fast you travel below the speed of light, the light will still appear to recede from you at 186,000mps! And this is not the worst of it -- not by far. Outside, stationary observers in the first case will measure the light receding from you at 186,000mps but at only 1,000mps in the second case -- an apparent contradiction. The natural question to ask here is: "Well, which is it? If you chase the light at 185,000mpls, does the light really recede from you at 186,000mps second (which is what you observe chasing it), or, does it really recede from you at 1,000mps (which is what outside observers will measure)? Einstein proved that both (apparently contradictory) findings are really correct...because there is no objective frame of reference. It turns out -- and again, relativity has been fantastically verified, that the following two facts are both true and all there is to say:
Einstein showed, in other words, that what appears to be a contradiction is only actually a contradiction if something false -- absolute motion and simultaneity -- are assumed. If one does not assume these things, but instead assumes all time and motion to be fundamentally relative to reference-frames, the apparent contradiction is resolved.
My Spin on Einstein's Trick
Prior to "A New Theory of Free Will" (with, I think, the exception of Kant), existing theories of free will have all attempted to solve the problem of free will from within our reference frame here in the physical reality we observe around us. This is natural enough, of course, as this is the only reality that we have direct perceptual access to.
I argued in "A New Theory of Free Will" and then on additional grounds in "A Unified Explanation of Quantum Phenomena...?", that we have epistemic reasons to take very seriously the possibility that the physical reality we observe around us is the product of phenomenal consciousness and a peer-to-peer simulation structure in a higher reference-frame (to which we do not have direct perceptual access). While, like Kant's "noumena", this higher reference-frame is beyond our direct perceptual access, unlike Kant -- who thought we can have no knowledge of the noumena world -- I contend that we can have indirect evidence of it. How so? Well, first, if "A Unified Explanation...?" and my other remarks here are right, quantum phenomena themselves as an entire class -- the phenomena of superposition, the wavefunction, wave-particle duality, Planck length, etc. -- are all indirect, telltale signs of a peer-to-peer functional structure in a higher reference frame (for, as I argue, all of these phenomena emerge naturally from the computational structure of any peer-to-peer network!). Second, I argued in "A New Theory of Free Will" that there are at least three other predictions which, if verified, would give us indirect evidence of the higher reference frame: predictions regarding (1) lattice quantum chromodynamics (which would indicate we are a simulation), (2) holographic noise (which would support the proposition that reality is holographic), and finally (3) violations of the normal quantum wave-function (i.e. the Schrodinger Equation) in human brains indexed to each person (which would support the idea that each person has libertarian free will in the higher-reference undetermined by any laws of physics in our reference-frame).
Now, you might say, if all these aspects of my theory are verified, isn't this just to say that determinism (the assumption that gets the Consequence Argument going) is false? The answer is: I don't think this is right. Such finding would mean that determinism is false relative to the higher reference-frame. But, determinism would still be true relative to our reference-frame. How so?
Let me return to an analogy that I deployed in my last post: the case of the classic videogame Pac-Man. When we play Pac-Man, it is clear from our reference-point outside of the game that the game is not determined by any of the game's programming/algorithms. Of course, almost all of the game is determined by such algorithms (i.e. the barriers your character has to move around are set by the game's programming, so are the actions of the enemy "ghosts" that chase your character around). But not all of the game is so determined by programming. Your character, Pac-Man, is determined by your inputs from outside the game. Your inputs interact with game's programming to determine how the game progresses.
But now let's imagine ourselves from the perspective of observers within the game: say, the perspective of Pac-Man or any of the ghosts chasing him around. If they could do "Pac-Man Science" from their point-of-view within the game, what results would they be led to? Well, they would develop "Pac-Man Physics" explaining, in mathematical terms, the computational structures of their world -- the barriers that surround them, as well as the algorithms of the "ghosts." All of these features of their world would appear to be fully determined by the game's "laws" (i.e. it's programming). However, one and only one feature of their reality would seem to be special: your character, Pac-Man. No matter how much "Pac-Man Science" they did, they would never be able to fully and accurately predict Pac-Man's behavior. And why? Answer: because his behavior is the result of processes -- our actions as Pac-Man's user -- in a reference-frame to which they have no direct access. They would, at most, be able to come up with probabilistic "laws" to explain Pac Man's behavior. They would infer from regularities in his behavior (i.e. our playing habits) that certain moves on his part are more probable than others. As such, they would posit a "Pac-Man wave-function" as determining his actions. And, of course, from their reference-frame they would be right. Pac-Man's actions are determined by the "Pac-Man wave-function" because that wave-function just is our playing habits in the higher reference frame.
There's a simpler way to put this:
Which description is true? I say: they are both true. From the reference frame within any world, there will always be some description of "physical laws" (if only probabilistic ones) according to which everything in that world is determined by those laws. However, the same may not be true relative to a higher reference-frame -- one which that "deterministic physical world" is embedded.
According to my theory of free will, Libertarian Compatibilism, this is exactly what's going on in our world. The Consequence Argument is sound relative to our reference-frame in the physical world, but premise (6) -- the premise that we "have no choice what the laws of nature are" -- is false relative to the higher reference-frame that comprises the Peer-to-Peer Simulation we live in.
Or, more simply: our libertarian choices in the higher reference frame H contribute (along with the other laws embodied in our universe's algorithms) to determine the laws in our physical world reference-frame, L, which in turn determine our behavior in L. Libertarianism is true relative to reference-frame H, determinism is true relative to reference-frame L...and that's all. Consequence Argument solved. :)
Well, maybe. What do you think? :)
Historically, philosophical debate about the mental lives of non-human animals has bounced back and forth between the following two diametrically opposed views:
Many (most?) people today -- including most philosophers of mind -- seem to side firmly with view #1. Indeed, the idea that animals might not "feel a thing" might even seem crazy to many (most?) people. Animals are clearly a lot like us. They have eyes, just like us. Their eyes enable them to see things in their environment. They have brains, just like us. They wince in pain, just like us. Etc. Given all this, how could view #2 possibly be true?
I am not going to suggest in this post that view #2 is true. I am merely going to tell a story about how it might be true, and how the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Theory of Reality and Libertarian Compatibilist Theory of Free Will I defend together entail empirical predictions the verification of which might settle pretty settle the matter pretty definitively.
Before proceeding, a few more preliminaries are necessary.
First, I want to note that views 1 and 2 are not the only two possible views about human and animal mental lives. On the one hand, some philosophers (eliminativists about phenomenal consciousness) don't think either humans or animals are "phenomenally conscious" in any interesting sense. On the other hand, there are "middle" views between 1 and 2 -- views according to which phenomenal consciousness comes in degrees, with higher species of animals (non-human primates, dogs, cats, etc.) having "more" consciousness than lower species (viz. worms may experience something, but not much!). For the sake of our discussion, I want to set all of these views aside and focus exclusively on views 1&2.
Second, I want to note that which of the two views is correct (view 1 or 2) may have important implications for the philosophy of free will. If phenomenal consciousness is (as many philosophers have argued) non-physical, then -- since non-physical things are not governed by physical laws -- phenomenal consciousness may be a place for libertarian free will to enter the world. If this is the case -- if phenomenal consciousness and libertarian free will go hand-in-hand -- then views 1 and 2 have very different free will implications for humans and animals. View 1 would entail that humans and animals both have libertarian free will, but view 2 would entail that humans have libertarian free will but animals don't. And indeed, Kant defended a view like this. According to Kant, animals are mere mechanisms pushed around the world by their beliefs and desires. Human beings on the other hand, Kant thought, do something very different: we are pure practical reasoners outside of the physical/phenomenal world who have the capacity to act on principle alone, independently of physical law.
Now that we have these preliminaries out the way (and we could go on with a lot more but should probably stop!), let's turn to our current evidence. Which view -- view 1 (humans and animals are both phenomenally conscious) or view 2 (humans are, animals aren't) -- is best supported by our evidence?
Our Current Evidence: lots of evidence for view #1, but a little tantalizing evidence for view #2?
Most people, and most philosophers, appear to think that our current evidence strongly favors view#1: the view that human beings and animals are both phenomenally conscious. I think this is almost certainly right. Let me explain why.
The question of which theories we should take to be closer to the truth than others at any given time (and why) is actually a really complex issue in the philosophy of science (far more complex than one might otherwise expect). Because I cannot do justice to most of these complexities in a blog post, I'd like to move forward with an admittedly simplistic (but, I think, broadly) accurate story.
We tend to accept scientific and philosophical theories (or at least think they are onto something true) on the basis of inference to the best explanation. We think planets revolve around the Sun (Copernican astronomy) rather than planets and the Sun revolving around the Earth (Ptolemaic astronomy) because the former is a better explanation of our evidence than the latter.
With this in mind, let's think about scientific progress more generally. Science has "naturalized" one mysterious thing after another, by showing how seemingly mysterious things (such as life, etc.) can emerge from more basic mechanisms (e.g. atoms, molecules, cells, etc.). With this in mind, let's turn to the mind. We know how eyes work, we know (at least to some extent) how brains process visual information, we know that when brains are damaged, the damage causes mental changes. Etc. Given all this, our best explanation seems to be that the mind is simply the brain (or what the brain does). But of course animals have brains too, so to whatever extent we have minds -- to whatever extent our brains explain our being phenomenally consciousness -- our best explanation seems to support the proposition that animals have phenomenal consciousness too.
This is, again, admittedly an overly simplistic story -- but for all that it is, I think, something like the story most of us tacitly accept. Science suggests that human conscious life is a matter of physical brain-mechanisms, and, since animals appear to have similar brain mechanisms (not to mention similar behaviors, e.g. wincing in pain, etc.), this in turn suggests that animals have consciousness too.
Now, of course, things are a lot more complicated than this, at least in part because many philosophers (myself included) think there are strong arguments that phenomenal consciousness cannot be physical or functional -- but let us set these arguments aside. The point, for now, is that from a scientific perspective, there seem to be a lot of reasons to think that view #1 (humans and animals are both conscious) is true and view #2 false.
Before we turn to what my P2P Simulation Model and Libertarian Compatibilism have to say here, I think it is worth pointing out that some recent scientific developments might have begun to reveal some small cracks in the above case for view#1.
One potential crack in the scientific argument for view #1 comes from scientific study of the strange phenomenon known as "blindsight." Blindsight, for those of who may have never heard of it, is super-weird. It turns out that if parts of the human primary visual cortex (PVC) are damaged, the person will say that they have no phenomenal experience in the parts of their visual field corresponding to their PVC damage. If you ask them what that part of their visual field looks like, they'll say, "Nothing. I experience anything there. It's all dark." Strangely, despite this, blindsight patients can do lots of things -- engaging with the world around themselves sensibly -- using visual information. They can walk around chairs, put envelopes in mail slots, catch things thrown at them, respond to facial expressions, and pick out shapes likes "X" from "O" (when prompted) significantly better than chance (see this video for an introduction).
How does this work? Very roughly, it appears that we have an older visual system that accomplishes procedural visual processing (i.e. enabling us to navigate our environment) without phenomenal conscious experience (which arises from the PVC). In other words, phenomenal conscious experience does not appear to be necessary for many vision-based behaviors that might otherwise give outside observers the impression that the person has phenomenal consciousness.
This is interesting, obviously, because it shows that conditionals like, "If organism X's brain processes Y-information in ways that enable Y-based behavior, X must have phenomenally conscious Y-experiences", are false. It is possible for a creature to (e.g.) process visual inputs, and engage with its environment utilizing those inputs, without any phenomenally conscious experience at all. And if it's possible in the visual case, it might be possible too in other cases (viz. for an organism to act as if it fails pain without there being phenomenally conscious experience of the pain).
This raises an obvious question: might non-human animals be "blindsighters" simpliciter? Might they lack phenomenal experience altogether? Some philosophers (e.g. Peter Carruthers) have given reasons for thinking that they might be.
Consider what it is that blindsighters seem to lack. They can interact with objects in their environment; they just can't introspect the fact that they are doing so. They do not experience themselves experiencing the world. These deficits bring to mind an influential (yet controversial) set of theories of phenomenal consciousness: higher-order thought (HOT) and higher-order perception (HOP) theories. Although these types of theories are controversial, they seem to sit very well with (and explain) what's going on in the case of blindsight. Blindsight patients' brains "experience" the world. But again, they don't experience themselves experiencing the world. Blindsight patients' "experiences" are not presented to them.
If all this is right, then (as Carruthers has argued in many places) there might be legitimate empirical reasons to doubt whether non-human animals are phenomenally conscious. Most non-human animals, after all, appear to systematically lack higher-order capacities. They appear to simply respond to their environment, and not to reflect (in a higher-order way) on their representations of the environment. I think we sometimes witness this in particularly puzzling animal behaviors. Consider, for instance, the ratehr strange behavior of house cats trying to "cover up" their food with refuse that does not exist. Cats developed this instinct because, in nature, there is refuse (dirt, etc.) to cover up their food with, to keep other animals away. In a domestic environment, however, there is no refuse around -- and yet cats "try" to cover up their food anyway. They scratch away at the floor, clearly accomplishing nothing at all. As an observer, one is tempted to think, "My goodness, if the cat were experiencing what it's doing, it would plainly see that there is no dirt around, and that it's not doing anything." In any case, the cat seems plainly incapable of reflecting, in a higher-order way, as in "Does what I'm doing now make any sense?"
So, perhaps there are some reasons already -- given (A) the science of blindsight, (B) its apparent relation to higher-order representational capacities, and (C) animals appearing to lack such capacities in large measure -- to wonder whether animals have phenomenal consciousness.
Or perhaps not. The science of blindsight and status of HOT/HOP theories of consciousness are, as I understand it, still very much up in the air. I summarize these things merely to indicate that the question of whether non-human animals have phenomenal consciousness is not as simple -- not nearly as "cut and dry" of a scientific issue (to whatever extent it is one) -- as one might naively think. Blindsight indicates that behaviors that look as though they involve phenomenal consciousness need not involve any phenomenal consciousness at all.
The Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis and Libertarian Compatibilism
Let us now turn, finally, to the P2P Hypothesis and Libertarian Compatibilism. According to these theories (as I have so far developed them), phenomenal consciousness and libertarian free will are both brute, inexplicable non-physical capacities we have outside of the physical-causal order that read 2-dimensional physical information off to us, giving up phenomenal experience of a 3-dimensional physical world.
A simpler way to put this is as follows: our reality is functionally identical to a peer-to-peer online videogame, where our inputs as "users/observers" outside of the videogame (along with the manner in which our game console reads the game DVD) give us experience of the world and control over our actions in the game.
The question then is: what does any of this have to do with animals?
Well...let us begin with a very simple, early videogame: Pac-Man. In Pac-Man, you control your character (Pac-Man), and the point of the game is to "eat" all of the dots in a maze around you without getting killed by four "ghosts", which are non-player-characters (NPCs) that follow you around, trying to eat you.
Let's think about this a bit. In the Pac-Man world, there is one and only one "organism" -- i.e. you -- that (1) exists in a higher reference-frame outside of the world of the game, and (2) whose behaviors are not governed by any algorithms within the game, making its behavior uniquely unpredictable. All of the other organisms in the game (the four "ghosts") are mere algorithms. And indeed, it is this very fact that explains why their behavior is so much more predictable than your character's. They do not possess the kind of freedom that we have have as outside interveners in the system. Their actions are determined by the laws of the Pac-Man world plus their algorithms, whereas our actions are merely constrained by the laws of the world (i.e. the maze), but determined by us outside of the simulation.
Now turn to more complicated, recent videogames: games such as those in the Halo series (which I played a lot -- too much, really -- in grad school). Here, the world is much richer than the Pac-Man world. There are a lot more non-player-characters (NPCs). There are "animals" that roam the environment according to pretty simple algorithms, as well as as a wide variety of enemies: "grunts", "elites", "jackals", etc. -- all of whom are governed by progressively more complicated (but still rather simple) algorithms. All of these NPCs are governed by the laws of the game plus their algorithms, and nothing else. Finally, there is one -- and only one -- type of character (ours as the games' players) that is "special." We, as the game's players, and we alone (1) exist in a higher-reference frame outside of the game, and (2) our actions are not determined by any algorithm within the game.
Now, although human beings have of course designed these games -- deriving their inspiration for the games, presumably, from various aspects of our own world -- a number of similarities between these game worlds and our own world are striking (to me, at any rate). First, although non-human animals are capable of many remarkable things, by and large their behavioral repetoires are dramatically narrower, and their actions far more predictable, than ours. I love my dog Tex deeply, for instance, but his behavioral repetoire is really quite narrow. He chases tennis-balls, urinates on poles, wags his tail, sits down when he wants a treat, etc. -- but not a whole lot else. His behavior is also very, very predictable. I know, with 100% certainty (I have never once been wrong), that if a sprinkler goes off, he will rush for it (he is obsessed with spraying water).
It is striking that out of the trillions of species that have existed on our planet, there is one, and only one species -- human beings -- who seem to possess very robust recursive capacities that have exploded our behavioral repetoire exponentially (indeed, I'd say, infinitely). Whereas non-human animal actions are mostly dictated by instinct/training (i.e. algorithms), we human beings seem capable of a different sort of thing: overcoming our animal "algorithms" and acting on principle alone (I may really, really, really want to tell a lie, but I can say to myself, "I will not. It is wrong", and I seem to have the ability to make it so).
So, our world has some distinct parallels with worlds -- videogame worlds -- in which one type of creature (the characters we control from outside the game) really are metaphyically special, as compared to all other creatures (NPCs, which are "zombies" simply following algorithms).
Now, so far, this is just an analogy. I have not provided any proof (or even evidence) that the analogy is in fact correct. And indeed, as of yet, I have no such proof. Yet the P2P Hypothesis and Libertarian Compatibilism as I have defended them make empirical predictions which I believe could settle things one direction (view #1) or the other (view #2).
As I explained here, these theories together make three predictions, one of which is that there should be a certain tell-tale sign of "inputs" from a higher reference-frame (outside our reference-frame within the world). These tell-tale inputs would, on my analysis, take the form of subtle violations of the normal quantum wave-function within human brains. These violations would be the place where libertarian free will -- and phenomenal consciousness -- in a higher reference-frame intervene interact with the physical world we experience around us. (In "A New Theory of Free Will", I developed this idea by way of another game analogy. If we were to do "Halo Science" from within a Halo videogame, we would see that the same "laws" apply everywhere...except within the characters we control from the outside -- for, in their case, our dispositions as their controllers outside the game would show up as wave-functions representing our choices, rather than any law within the game).
Suppose, then, that we found such violations in human brains and only human brains (and that animal brains were found to simply follow the laws of nature as we so far understand them). I believe this would be very strong evidence that we are metaphysically special -- that we possess phenomenal consciousness and free will in a higher reference-frame -- and that non-human animals merely play out algorithms.
On the flip-side, suppose we found out that both human and non-human animal brains instantiate quantum violations. In that case, I think we would have evidence humans and animals are both special, not comprised by mere algorithms.
Finally, of course, if no quantum violations are found anywhere, then this would just show that the Libertarian Compatibilist/non-physicalist element of the P2P Hypothesis is false -- and that neither human beings nor animals possess any special "consciousness stuff" (though some other, purely functionalist version of the P2P Hypothesis might still be viable).
Insofar as the theories entail these tests, I believe that -- depending on how the empirical observations shake out! -- they might finally shed some real light on the question of whether "animals are just like us." Personally, I hope they are. It would devastate me if it turned out my dog, cat, and other animals are "mere algorithms" -- but, I say, we must leave it open to physical observation to tell us one way or the other.
There’s an article in this month’s issue of Scientific American entitled, “The Black Hole at the Beginning of Time: Do we live in a holographic mirage from another dimension?”, which alludes to a hypothesis I briefly summarized in my previous post on my peer-to-peer simulation model of reality: the Holographic Principle.
This principle -- which, as I note below and in "A New Theory of Free Will", is taken by an increasing number of physicists to be important and likely true -- entails that physical world that we observe around us is a hologram generated by 2-dimensional information written on the cosmological horizon.
I am going to suggest in today's post that the Holographic Principle, as such, might provide new reasons (beyond traditional anti-physicalist arguments) for taking mind-body dualism seriously. Specifically, I am going to suggest that when the Holographic principle is combined with the ordinary-everyday fact that we experience reality as a 3-dimensional world, then -- following what we know about holograms and holography -- a kind of mind-body dualism appears to follow.
Because the beginning and tail end of the SCIAM article pertains directly to the topic of today’s post, I’d like to quote them directly:
In his allegory of the cave, the Greek philosopher Plato described prisoners who have spent their entire lives chained to the wall of a dark cavern. Behind the prisoners lies a flame, and between the flame and prisoners parade objects that cast shadows onto a wall…These two-dimensional shadows are the only things the prisoners have ever seen – their only reality. Their shackles have prevented them from perceiving the true world…
Plato was onto something. We may all be living in a giant cosmic cave…Over the past couple of decades physicists have developed a rich theory of holography...[and] Perhaps the rules of the cosmos are written in another set of dimensions and translated into the three we perceive...
When Plato's prisoners emerged from the cave, the light of the sun burned their eyes...Plato's prisoners didn't understand the powers of the sun, just as we don't understand the...[holographic]...universe.
How cool would it be if, after all this time, Plato turned out to basically be right? What if, as Socrates argued in many of Plato's dialogues, the world we experience really is just a shadow of the true, ultimate reality, and our souls are indivisible things that somehow find themselves observing those shadows? Could we ever have physical evidence that he was right? As it turns out, perhaps we can!
Now, to be clear, the idea that the world we observe around us is nothing more than a giant hologram is still very speculative at this point. Still, it is a promising idea. First, physicists have argued that it might help resolve a lot of scientific problems: among them the unification of quantum mechanics with relativity, the black-hole information paradox, and the general uniformity and flatness of the universe. Second, as I have argued, when it is conjoined with several other hypotheses from philosophy, it might form part of a unified explanation of quantum phenomena. Finally, there appear to be ways to test the Holographic Principle (though the right ways to test it are still being debated).
Thus, although it still remains to be seen whether the universe is really holographic -- and we may or may not receive evidence one way or the other anytime soon -- I think it is worth exploring what might philosophically follow from the idea.
Let us begin with what the Holographic Principle says. In a nutshell, the Holographic Principle implies that the entire universe -- the 3-dimensional physical reality we see around us -- is really just 2-dimensional information “painted” on the cosmological horizon, much as songs are written on compact-discs, and movies and videogames are written on DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
According to the Holographic Principle, although we experience the physical world as consisting of three-dimensional “stuff” – as objects (e.g. tables and chairs to sit on, apples to eat, etc.) – that stuff is really nothing more than (1) a string of 2D information written on the universe's horizon, which is (2) somehow projected to us holographically.
Something has long intrigued me about this picture. Notice that it is straightforwardly dualistic. In order to get a hologram, you need two different things to interact: (1) holographic information and (2) a projection mechanism. Long before I knew anything about the Holographic Principle, something similarly interesting struck me about compact-discs and videogames.
As a beginning analogy, consider a song on an ordinary compact-disc. Although the song is of course information written on a CD, that doesn’t suffice for the song to be played, heard, or observed. Taken all by itself, the CD is just a static set of information. It's just there. In order for the song to actually be heard, a second, distinct from the CD (a CD player!) has to read the information off, processing it in real-time.
The same, of course, goes for virtual-reality videogames. Although a "virtual world" is 2D written on the surface of the DVD, no 3D-virtual world emerges from the DVD all on its own. The DVD, on its own, is just static 2D information. Again, it's just there. The virtual "trees", "rocks", etc. its information encodes are not experienced as 3D trees, rocks, etc., unless something else occurs: the game DVD has to be read/processed by outside medium (one's game/computer console).
Now consider the Holographic Principle and the associated science of holography.
According to the Holographic Principle, our physical world is nothing more than information written on a holographic plate. Yet a holographic plate alone is insufficient to give rise to the kind of 3D hologram we experience.
A 3D hologram is produced when, and only when, you have (1) a holographic plate, and then (2) a beam of light is split in two, one beam is bounced off the holographic plate, and the other beam passes through a lens and onto the plate, creating an interference pattern with the first. In other words, you need two fundamentally different things to get a 3D hologram (the kind of hologram we experience!). You need a holographic plate and an external observation mechanism to produce the holographic image (see image below).
There’s a simpler way to put this: (A) the Holographic Principle (a hypothesis from physics) plus, (B) our ordinary-everyday conscious experience of the world as 3-dimensional (a simple, experiential fact) appear to jointly entail, (C) a kind of mind-body dualism. One simply cannot get a 3D hologram from physical information alone. You need a second, distinct medium outside of the physical information to read that information off, producing an image. But if this is right, then we might have some new reasons -- based on physics and ordinary-experience alone -- to think that mind-body dualism may be true.
Finally, I would like to suggest -- following some remarks I initially made in “A New Theory of Free Will” -- that perhaps something like this has to be true of any experienced 3D world.
To repeat an analogy that I used in that paper, suppose you wanted to know what materials and structures it takes to make a bridge. How would you figure it out? The obvious answer is: you’d try to build models of a bridge (and then a bridge itself), and see if the models work (good models reproduce the phenomena they are intended to model).
Now consider the following analogy. Suppose you wanted to figure out what it takes to make a reality— that is, a 3-dimensional world of objects to experience, navigate, use, etc. How should you do it? Here’s an obvious answer: try to make your own model of one! But now how? Well, we already know how. We’ve already created virtual worlds -- online, interactive environments with 3D virtual objects, people, etc., all of which we can interact with in real time. And what does it take to make such an environment? We've found that it takes two things: (1) software (i.e. information encoding “rocks”, “trees”, etc.), and (2) hardware (external processors to measure that information in real-time).
So, perhaps, if our reality is holographic, could this be because any 3D reality has to be holographic? Could it be that any three-dimensional world has to be constructed out of two things -- 2D information being read by an outside medium?
I leave it to you to think about and discuss!
Because many of my posts to come this month will be based upon the theory I defend in "A New Theory of Free Will" and my forthcoming article "A Unified Explanation of Quantum Phenomena? The Case for the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Hypothesis as an Interdisciplinary Research Program", I thought it might be helpful for readers if I briefly summarize the theory, some of the reasons why I think it is worth taking seriously, and the empirical predictions it makes.
I'll try to provide some additional reasons for taking it seriously in future posts, but hopefully the reasons I give here will stoke some conversation. Anyway, here goes!
Libertarian Compatibilism and the P2P Simulation Theory
Nick Bostrom is well-known for arguing on purely probabilistic grounds that we are probably living in a simulation. Somewhat similarly, David Chalmers has argued that we should consider the “simulation hypothesis” not as a skeptical hypothesis that threatens our having knowledge of the external world but as a metaphysical hypothesis regarding what our world is actually made of. Finally, the simulation hypothesis is gaining some traction in physics.
In "A New Theory of Free Will" and "A Unified Explanation...?", I argue that a new version of the simulation hypothesis--the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Simulation Hypothesis--is not only implied by several serious hypotheses in philosophy and physics, but promises to provide a unified explanation of a bunch of baffling physical and metaphysical features of our world.
I begin "A New Theory of Free Will" by arguing that we presently have some philosophical and scientific evidence in favor of each of the following hypotheses:
Although many of these hypotheses are extremely controversial, I believe that the model they jointly imply--the P2P hypothesis--promises to explain things about our reality that need explaining, and for which we currently have no good explanation. Allow me to explain.
Are free will and moral responsibility compatible with determinism? Compatibilists say yes, incompatibilists say no. In this post, I am going to suggest that both positions may be right.
In Book I, part IV of A Treatise of Human Nature, David Hume distinguishes between what he calls "vulgar" and "philosophic" patterns of reasoning. Hume's focus in these passages is on external world skepticism--that is, on whether we have any knowledge of the world outside of our minds.
Hume suggests that when we think philosophically about this question, it seems clear that we don't have knowledge. After all, as Descartes pointed out, for all we know, we are radically deceived. We may be dreaming, the "external world" may be a figment of our imagination, etc. Hume then says, however, that the moment we quit philosophical speculation and reenter the context of ordinary life, it's plain that there's also a "vulgar" sense in which we do have knowledge of the external world. As far as ordinary life is concerned, we know full well that the tables, chairs, other people, etc.
There is a great difference betwixt such opinions as we form after a calm and profound reflection, and such as we embrace by a kind of instinct or natural impulse...As long as our attention is bent upon the subject, the philosophical and study'd principle may prevail; but the moment we relax our thoughts, nature will display herself, and draw us back to our former opinion...
Having thus given an account of all the systems both popular and philosophical, with regard to external existences, I cannot forebear giving vent to a certain sentiment, which arises upon reviewing those systems. I began this subject with premising, that we ought to have implicit faith in our senses...But to be ingenuous, I feel myself at present of a quite contrary sentiment, and am more inclin'd to repose no faith at all in my senses...
This skeptical doubt...is a malady, which can never be radically cur'd, but must return upon us every moment, however we may chace it away, and sometimes may seem entirely free from it...As the skeptical doubt arises naturally from a profound and intense reflection on those subjects, it always encreases, the farther we carry our reflections...Carelessness and in-attention alone can afford us any remedy. For this reason I rely entirely upon them; and at this present moment, take it for granted, whatever may be the reader's opinion at this present moment, that an hour hence he will be persuaded that there is both an external and internal world...
Contextualists in epistemology have long argued for this kind of position. Very roughly, according to them:
Contextualists often make the case for this by showing--like Hume does--how our epistemic standards seem to shift. Ask an ordinary person whether they know there's a table here, and they'll almost certainly say yes. Have them read Descartes or watch The Matrix, they may be apt to say "no." Then, however, the moment they stop focusing on Descartes/The Matrix and reenter ordinary life, they'll start saying they know things about the world again!
I'd like to begin my month at Flickers by thanking Thomas for inviting me to be here, and for his kind introduction. I'd also like to thank all of you in advance for taking the time to read (and hopefully engage with!) my posts.
Before I lay out my tentative plan for the month, it might be helpful to discuss how I came to enter the free will debate.
As Thomas notes, my primary areas of research are actually moral and political philosophy. I first got into thinking about free will from doing work in Kantian ethics. Kant, as many of you probably know, had a really wild view of free will. Very roughly, Kant argued that although we encounter the world as causally closed under physical law from a theoretical perspective, we encounter ourselves as though we can violate physical law (and impose the moral law upon ourselves) from a practical perspective. Finally, Kant tried to show that because (1) the theoretical perspective--very roughly, the scientific perspective--only gets at appearances, and (2) we can deduce from appearances that there must be something behind them (i.e. noumena, or things-in-themselves), it follows that (3) the apparent causal closure of the physical world is consistent with us having libertarian-type free will as noumena. Although Kant's theory of free will is widely thought to be a failure (see here for a nice overview), it's a fascinating picture, and one that I've always found broadly attractive.
This brings us to my second entry-point to the free will debate: the philosophy of physics. Contemporary philosophy, by my lights, has been dominated by a particular view of the natural world. On this view--which I sometimes like to call "naive physicalism"--the natural world is comprised by particles bouncing around like billiard balls. It's a broadly Newtonian, mechanistic picture, and one that sits very nicely with the deterministic view of "nature as clockwork."
Although some elements of this view are broadly correct--particles do move around and interact with one another--quantum physics has shown that our world is much more complicated (and bizarre) than this. Among other things, ours is a world in which particles pop into and out of existence, travel right through one another, simultaneously possess properties of particles and waves, and do lots of other crazy stuff I'll touch on this month. Long story short, physicists and philosophers of physics have long struggled to make sense of quantum reality. As this video illustrates, it's pretty commonplace for physicists to admit that we have "no idea" why the world has the quantum features it does. Finally, although there exists a wide variety of interpretations quantum mechanics, all of them arguably have serious problems. The quantum world is a big puzzle, and one that we have barely begun to resolve.
Anyway, in a nutshell, my project is this: I have argued here and here that if we conjoin several serious hypotheses from metaphysics and physics, we get (A) a promising new interpretation of quantum phenomena that successfully explains a lot of stuff that no other interpretation does, and, more or less, (B) Kant's crazy theory of free will(!). My work, in other words, can be understood as an attempt to make something like Kant's theory of free will physically, and metaphysically, respectable. The model I've constructed may turn out to be right, it may turn out to be spectacularly wrong. Fortunately, it makes some empirical predictions--so perhaps we'll find out soon. In any case, I hope you will all find it worthwhile to discuss!
Over the course of the following month, I hope to debate and further explore this picture with you all. As a rough first pass, here's what I hope to post on:
Depending on how things go, I may or may not get to all this--but I hope it sounds fun! :)
It's the first of the month yet again--which means it's time to thank last month's Featured Author (Joshua Sheperd) for doing an outstanding job stoking the flames of discourse here at Flickers of Freedom. It's always illustrative to see what my fellow researchers are working on these days. It's also nice to see people taking their work on action theory in different directions--from the metaphysics of determinism to the relationship (or lack thereof) between different forms of consciousness and different kinds of agency. So, thanks again to Joshua for his time and energy.
That said, it's now time to pass the torch to this month's Featured Author--Marcus Arvan. Arvan is currently finishing up a book manuscript entitled Reinventing the Metaphysics of Morals: A New Moral and Political Theory in which he provides an argument for revising all of Kant’s formulations of the Categorical Imperative, unifies the revised formulas, and use them to defend a new theory of rightness called “Rightness as Fairness”, consisting of one deontological principle (principle of negative fairness), one consequentialist principle (principle of positive fairness), and a principle of virtue – unifying three dominant strands of moral philosophy into a single coherent whole.
Arvan is also engaged in developing a systematic theory of nonideal justice, “Nonideal Justice as Nonideal Fairness”, and defending a radical reconceptualization of human rights theory and practice. Finally, in metaphysics and the philosophy of physics, he has defended a new theory of reality – the Peer-to-Peer Simulation Theory – as a unified explanation of quantum phenomena, and he uses the model to defend a new theory of free will, Libertarian Compatibilism, according to which libertarian free will in a higher reference-frame generates the illusion of physical causal closure in our reference frame at the level of quantum wave-function collapse.
In short, Arvan has a lot of ambitious and interesting projects underway. So, it will be fun having him on Flickers of Freedom this month to share his ideas. Please join me in welcoming him!
Finally, here is the line up for the Featured Author series through the end of the year (with more additions to come soon for 2015):
September: Matt King
October: Justin Coates
November: Charles Hermes
December: Peter Tse
As always, thanks to everyone for helping to make this blog such a great online forum for discussing free will and related issues! Hopefully, everyone (inclding me) can try to find more time to participate in the discussion threads in the weeks and months ahead. Try not to miss out on the fun. We have a rare community here at Flickers, so we shouldn't take it for granted!