On Free Will: Dennett and Caruso go head to head

Can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m (mostly) with Dennet on this one.

Note that I didn’t read the whole debate, I’m just saying that I agree on the basic principle of free will.


I had not planned to read the debate, until you posted your comment. The free will debates become tiresome after a while.

So I followed your example and read it (or skimmed), and I do mostly agree with Dennett. That’s not a surprise for me. Dennett usually gets free will reasonably correct.


Dennett’s position is perfect. Given the data we have to work with!: “Moral Agency exists, because we have the ‘freedom to choose’ … but this ‘freedom’ isnt really what we think it is!”

Ironically, it was Dennett’s position on “non-free” free will that personally convinced me that a God exists!

I concluded that consciousness is wasted on a being that lacks Moral Agency AND Freedom… and that only a deity could make both things true for humanity!


I feel that whether there is free will and whether one should be praised/punished are unrelated.

In a deterministic universe without free will, punishment and praise are the deterministic consequences of certain actions. There is no “morally responsible” here because there is no choice, yet a person is punished/praised because the equations of motion said so!

It is perfectly coherent to have punishment/praise in a society even if the universe turns out to be deterministic and without free will. Further, I think it doesn’t make sense to say that if there is no free will then someone does not “deserve” praise/punishment because in such a universe there is no definition of “deserves” other than that demanded by determinism.


This is an important point. And it is a point often ignored by critics of free will. Too often, I see them arguing that because the criminal did not have free, therefore we must use the free will that we presumably don’t have to change the penalty for that crime. They don’t see the contradiction.

Your way of putting it does avoid that problem.