Does the idea that we have free will serve to foster our cruelty to one another? Richard Oerton has already dismissed the idea of free will as incoherent and illusory, doing so in The Nonsense of Free Will, a book described as "wonderfully clear - and very clever" by the New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris. The Cruelty of Free Will starts by recapitulating the theDoes the idea that we have free will serve to foster our cruelty to one another? Richard Oerton has already dismissed the idea of free will as incoherent and illusory, doing so in The Nonsense of Free Will, a book described as "wonderfully clear - and very clever" by the New York Times bestselling author Sam Harris. The Cruelty of Free Will starts by recapitulating the theme of the earlier book, but then goes on to develop it in important ways. It asks two questions: why - and how - does free will belief persist so stubbornly? Philosophers and others who try to uphold free will are guided less by reason than by their own (probably unconscious) emotions. Blind to the fact that our everyday explanations of human behaviour are based, not on free will, but on an unacknowledged determinism, they try to preserve the idea of free will by means of sophistry and word-play. Their methods include a conjuring trick: that of replacing our common idea of free will with some other concept which, though they call it by the same name, actually involves no freedom of choice. Free will is thought to be a good thing and determinism a bad one, but Richard Oerton insists that we've got this the wrong way round because belief in free will fosters ignorance and cruelty. It allows us to think that those whose lives are bleak have only themselves to blame, and that criminals and other bad guys are embodiments of self-created wickedness deserving of retributive punishment - whereas in reality, we are all of us simply the products of biological and environmental luck. The Cruelty of Free Will asserts that human beings belong to what is still a savage species with few inhibitions against harming one another, and that we cling to the idea of free will mainly because it purports to justify the escape and expression of this savagery....
|Title||:||The Cruelty of Free Will|
|Number of Pages||:||160 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
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The Cruelty of Free Will Reviews
The Cruelty of Free Will is Richard Oerton's follow-up to The Nonsense of Free Will. The discussion of free will is often convoluted and frequently full of hostility. It does not need to be and Oerton does a great job of explaining the problems with free will as it is generally accepted in the west.I'm hesitant to try my hand at distilling his already streamlined explanations so I won't give it much effort. Basically free will says in response to any given situation, event, whatever we are completely free to make any choice. Yet in every aspect of our daily lives we rely on determinism to get us through. We know, for instance, that a friend's history and preferences will make her pick a certain restaurant over another if given a choice. It isn't that she cannot choose the other but who she is determines what choice she will make. If we were to go through a day thinking that any given action another person took was not determined by their make-up and their history then we would be in a completely random and chaotic world. Any field that looks for reasons behind a person's actions rely on determinism, not free will, being the driving force. A poor explanation by comparison so read the first book for a better explanation or the first chapter of this one.Free will is what stands behind many of society's cruelest and least compassionate norms and laws. If that poor person had chosen better they would not be poor, so they are to blame. Not the dirt poor environment into which they were born or the institutional racism or sexism they have faced. Criminals should be punished because they freely chose their path, not some of the same factors I just mentioned above. This isn't to say criminals should not be held accountable, they should. But retribution rather than rehabilitation is preferred because people believe the criminal chose freely to follow the path they took.Basically, free will plays a large role in the way society keeps the poor and the disadvantaged down because, through the lense of free will, they deserve what they get. Those of you intrigued by the ideas should read the book(s) to better understand. Those of you vehemently opposed to what I am saying should also read the book since I acknowledge my explanation is weak and certainly if there is any chance that the concept of free will is behind our cruelty to one another it is worth the time to read a better explanation before throwing the idea out. I want to include this extended quote from Oerton in a piece on Female First (http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/books/th... "We cling to the idea of free will because we're still a savage species. You won't have liked some of my earlier assertions and you certainly won't like this one - but surely it's true. Evolution has not (yet) produced in us a species dedicated to the general welfare of its own members or with any strong inhibitions against killing, harming or exploiting them. (If you doubt this, pick up a newspaper.) We are still a savage species, and free will belief lets some of it out of the cage in which, most of the time, civilisation confines it."Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
This author is both clear and concise, a rarity in those who write about philosophical conceptions. Though I had some minor disagreements from the deterministic perspective (while I am all for criminal justice reform I see punishment, savagery, and spectacle as part of what makes us human and think if you clamp it down in one place it will just pop up in another-see John Gray's take on the honesty of Mesoamerican human sacrifice it suiting this role in his most recent work 'The Soul of a Marionette'), I generally found this a good work on the philosophical side of determinism to compliment the material side which I find more familiar.