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July 1, 2015 / compassioninpolitics

Criticism of Sam Harris’ View of Free Will

1) Kills introspection & self-reflection ***
2) Only deduction, not induction. It kills induction or de-prioritizes it as way to attain knowledge of ourselves and the world ***
(See also here and here)
3) Sets burden of proof too high
4) “Scientific mysticism” ***
5) Leaving less ground for experiential reasons only leaves more room for God-type explanations
6) Reality frames our perception of reality (this is more an observation about the limits of knowledge)
7) Infinite regress (why, why, why) ends in nothing (aka no answers) OR God.
8) Bad cartesian methodology
9) Backward view. Kills personal observation of real world, which is the superior method. ***
10) David Harriman, The Logic Leap *** (link)
11) We don’t ergo is doesn’t exist is a poor knowledge heuristic. It sets the bar far, far too high. Human omnipotence is too high a bar ***
12) Harris has a bad or incomplete definition of free will.
13) Causal antecedants = poor criteria for determinism ***
14) Choice is a type of causality (not directly determined by the laws of physics–at least as we know them) ***
15) Red herring (?)
16) Worldview of determinism destroys progress and self-improvement (static versus dynamic & improving). ***
17) Billiard ball reality of Atomism of Aristotles time ***
18] WT Jones (link) and Leonard Peikoff (link)
19) The need to use the language of self-knowledge & choice–suggests its a fundamental part of things
20) fMRI data will never find free will
21) Conclusion: this destroys everything we hold dear.

Heres some other thoughts on Sam Harris’ view of free will & determinism:

1) Burden of proof wouldn’t be met by any theory in science.
2) His philosophy makes his responsibility–his choice–his thinking–all illusions
3) Harris makes calls to action meaningless.
4) Harris kills personal responsibility.
5) Harris ignores personality, subjectivity, etc…and human personhood.
6) Just an infinite regress beyond “rationality” and reason
7) NK: what is the mechanism of determinism such thats its all inclusive. (the universe & the big bang seem insufficient-see also scientific mysticism)
8) Uses hyperbole, inappropriate framing, and manipulation of known facts.
9) Ignores interior life and inner life

Based mostly on Free Will: Sam Harris Has It (Wrong) by Barry Linetsky (link)

I should make some links for:
• Atomism
• Mechanistic worldview/Mechanistic Science
• Physicalism/Naturalism
• Top down versus bottom up/Emergence
• The notion of utility versus
• Phenomenology
• Positivism & Critique of Positivism (post-positivism)
• Philosophy of Science
• Criticism of determinism
• Defense/Justification of free will

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