Monday, September 29, 2014
The Free Will Delusion: How We Settled for the Illusion of Morality
Poverty is not accident, but design. We are not all equal before the law. And the central message of contemporary ethics is that only some people matter. Expanding on work described as "crucial" and "very fine and provocative" by the Editor of The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, author James Miles now shows not only that free will is a delusion but that it is this delusion that has left us with only the illusion of morality. Belief in free will means never having to acknowledge your own great good fortune, or recognise the far greater misfortune of others. It is the conceit of freedom of the will that today ensures that so many at the bottom are denied any chance of social and economic advancement. Some free will theorists even argue that we need not be concerned with ideals of equality, fair play and opportunity. Is this fair? "Is it fair...? Life isn't fair", shrugs the free will philosopher Dan Dennett. Yes, life is not fair, and if we leave it up to the priests and the philosophers, it never will be. The Free Will Delusion is an eloquent and rousing call to arms that we can be, we must be, better than this.