In “Evolution Explains It All for You,” Galen Strawson considers Daniel Dennett’s arguments for compatibilism, the idea that “freedom is wholly compatible with determinism, although determinism is the view that everything that happens in the universe is necessitated by what has already happened, so that nothing can ever occur otherwise than it actually does.” Yet, Strawson says, “This compatibilist freedom … seems intensely unsatisfactory. “
In “The Free-Will Scale,” Stephen Cave says that we have an IQ that measures intelligence and also an FQ … freedom quotient … to show how much free will we have. “[T]he comparison with intelligence is revealing. For much of the past 2,000 years in the West, intelligence was conceived in terms of a God-given faculty of reason that set humans wholly apart from other creatures. ‘Intellect’ and ‘will’ were seen by the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas, for example, as the two pre‑eminent faculties of the soul, which did not depend at all on the body. Now we know differently: we know that we have evolved through a long process of natural selection and that we share our faculties to varying degrees with other animals. Upon realising this, we did not conclude that there wasn’t really any such thing as intelligence – rather, psychologists set about putting it on a scientific footing. Similarly, we should not say that there is no such thing as free will, just because it is not how the theologians imagined; rather, it is time we put it, too, on a scientific footing.”
In “The Murky Ethics of Making Monkeys Pick Our Coconuts,” Justin Wm. Moyer asks: “If a creature is smart enough to pick coconuts, is it fair to make him? This is the question at the heart of a controversy over pigtailed macaques in Thailand that excel at picking coconuts loved by Western consumers — but do so on leashes.”
Neuroscientist Joe Herbert asks why we can’t unite neuroscience and psychiatry. “Most of our organs can be treated as repairable machines. Why can’t we treat mental illness by simply fixing the brain?”
This couple lives on 6% of their income so they can give $100,000 a year to charity. “Julia Wise is a social worker and her husband, Jeff Kaufman, is a software engineer. In 2013, their combined income was just under $245,000, putting them in the top 10% of US households. And yet, excluding taxes and savings, they lived on just $15,280, or 6.25% of their income. What happened to the rest of their income, just under $100,000? They gave it to charity.”
In “What Art Unveils,” Alva Noë says that art makes things strange. “Art unveils us ourselves. Art is a making activity because we are by nature and culture organized by making activities. A work of art is a strange tool. It is an alien implement that affords us the opportunity to bring into view everything that was hidden in the background.”
In “5 Thought Experiments That Will Melt Your Brain,” Evan Dashevsky says that because “some science is too big, dangerous, or weird to happen in the lab,” thought experiments “may be the most valuable experiments of all.” But notice that all five of his examples are from philosophers.
Well, if by “world” you mean the true nature of the whole of reality, that does not exist as something we could possibly know. But everything else except the world does exist. In his review of Markus Gabriel’s Why the World Does Not Exist, Richard Wolin explains all this and more.
“Why is it wrong for Volkswagen to lie (if it did lie) about whether its cars meet emission standards, but uncontroversial for HBO to lie (if it is lying) about whether Jon Snow is dead?” In “Companies Lie. Some Get Away with It,” Stephen Carter explains that sometimes we expect people to lie and sometimes we don’t.
In “There Is No Theory of Everything,” Simon Critchley reminisces about his teacher Frank Cioffi. Along the way there are amusing anecdotes, distinctions drawn between explanation and interpretation, warnings about the twin dangers of scientism and obscurantism, and reflections on the value of philosophy (it scratches an itch!). “We don’t need an answer to the question of life’s meaning, just as we don’t need a theory of everything. What we need are multifarious descriptions of many things, further descriptions of phenomena that change the aspect under which they are seen, that light them up and let us see them anew.”