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Free Will: A Response to Sam Harris [Kindle Edition]

Kurt Keefner
2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Do we have free will? Leading atheist Sam Harris says, No! We are just puppets of unconscious forces. Kurt Keefner responds, Yes! Our power to explore the world makes us free. In this extended essay, Keefner answers the arguments in Harris’ 2012 book "Free Will" and then provides a more realistic and nuanced portrait of how we make choices. Ironically, concludes Keefner, Harris is the victim of leftover religious notions in his thinking.

"Bottom line, Keefner’s book is a must read for anyone interested in the current state of the free will debate." -Eric Field, Examiner.com


Product Details

  • File Size: 105 KB
  • Print Length: 30 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00869S35Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,969 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
170 of 187 people found the following review helpful
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I bought this ebook because it had four good reviews, but after reading the book, I really do not get how it got those.
The book is just a long misrepresentation of Sam Harris' views, and a debunking of these misrepresentations, which Harris himself would more or less agree with. It is unclear in its reasoning and all in all it is just a bad trip of confusion.
First of all, the book fails to realize what the free will that Harris criticizes is. In the first chapter, Harris defines the free will he is discussing: "The popular conception of free will seems to rest on two assumptions: 1) that each of us could have behaved differently in the past, and 2) that we are the conscious source of most of our thoughts and actions in the present." Keefner writes that Harris is wrong in thinking that this is what free will is, but this is merely a disagreement of definition and nothing more. A point which many, including Keefner, seem to miss is that there is no self-evidently right definition of free will, which is why people should define what they mean by free will as the first thing. Much, if not most, of the confusion in the debate over free will surely lies in the lack of clarity about the meaning of the term 'free will', and the confusion in this book is no exception.
The most funny thing about this book is how it accuses Harris of making straw men when that is all that it does itself. One of the biggest mistakes is that Keefner fails to see when Harris is speaking in subjective terms - from the point of view of experience, and not in terms of brain functioning; for instance when Harris writes that thoughts appear out of nothing.
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65 of 75 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing July 9, 2012
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This is a primarily emotional response to Harris.

It is readable, for what that much is worth, but it does not do well at articulating the ideas Harris presents.

I am a philosophy student researching free will an this has given me a very strong example of how not to write and address other philosophers. It stands on name dropped Rand principles to present a reality that we must accept, this acceptance being the seat of free will.

Keefners text is certainly useful for seeing what some people consider free will to be about but this work is not at all respectfully done. The organization is also lacking as his four points of attack blend into two philosophy
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68 of 81 people found the following review helpful
By Ponger
After reading a few pages of this amateur author's work, it is clear he did not understand the basic tenets of Harris's book entitled Free Will. He makes claims about it, such as the dualism claim, that simply are not what was presented in Free Will. His argument is the same as that used for believing in God, it has to be true that free will exists because it feels right. While that has justified all kinds of beliefs, from Astrology to Zeus, it is in no way an intelligent or logical approach to proving something. We must accept Keefner's argument on faith, and not sound logic or convinicing facts.
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Completely unsophisticated and Hollow July 23, 2012
This author makes one long emotional plea while lacking the acumen to fully understand what Sam Harris even argued for. I highly suggest that if you must read this, to have Sam's book side by side to see what a farce this "book" really is. Anyone who reads Sam's book who has a grain of intellect will quickly see the outright misrepresentation and strawmen arguments this guy advances.

I am utterly amazed at the lengths people go to to maintain libertarian free will despite the evidence to the contrary. The new lows is to now misrepresent, distort the determinist position. Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Totally misses the argument October 1, 2012
By B. Redd
(Updated to correct an error)

Kurt Keefner misrepresents Sam Harris, misunderstands his arguments, and fails to respond to the real arguments. He even misrepresents philosophies such as reductionism that would have taken 5 minutes of research on wikipedia to understand (he thinks that because "matter must be capable of more than what individual atoms and neurons are, [then] reductionism is invalidated." Wow.)

The entire first half of the essay is wasted on the misunderstanding that Sam Harris's arguments depend on separating our consciousness from our unconscious brain, and that choices come from our unconscious brain, therefore we don't make choices. In fact Harris's argument does not depend on this separation, because he's not arguing that we don't make choices.

The main point is that Kurt Keefner seems to think that we're all arguing about whether humans have the ability to make choices. We're not. Everyone acknowledges that we all have the ability to make choices based on deliberation. The question is whether the choice is the ultimate explanation for our actions, or the proximate explanation that can be ultimately explained by reference to our history, our genetics, or our environment.

Kurt Keefner thinks that "our basic decision to explore the world cannot be explained with reference to anything but itself," and is the source of our free will. I think the extent to which we choose to "explore the world," like all of our choices, is just a proximate explanation, not an ultimate one. He thinks that Sam Harris's requirements for a choice to be considered "free" are unrealistic. But that was the very point that Sam Harris was making: that free will, as a concept, doesn't really make sense. Mr. Keefner can argue until he's blue in the face that we have the ability to make choices, but he never actually responds to the basic arguments put forward by Sam Harris, making this paper both boring and a waste of time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read -- if only as a counterpoint to ...
An interesting read -- if only as a counterpoint to Harris' logic ...but overall poorly reasoned and of little use to someone looking for a scientifically sound point of view.
Published 1 month ago by William T. Boothman
1.0 out of 5 stars A long philosophical argument of no particular importance outside...
Both Harris and Keefner, in his "answer" spend a great deal of time discussing the implications of "free will" and then ask (and attempt to answer), "Do we... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Pete from across the River
1.0 out of 5 stars This response lacks any insight or critique
Don't waste your money. I find Sam Harris to be an honest and inspiring writer so, in an effort to not get drawn in by the cult of personality, I wanted someone to provide a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Vincnet M Whitney
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile addition to the debate...
Kurt Keefner's essay, "Free Will: A Resonse to Sam Harris," is a worthwhile addition to the debate on free will. Read more
Published 13 months ago by John Shepard
1.0 out of 5 stars In what sense is this a response?
If you meant to write a "response" to Sam Harris shouldn't you have assumed your audience had read the work in question? Read more
Published 16 months ago by hastherage
3.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful, but too phenomenological.
the world is deterministic. The age of enlightenment has exorcised all inmaterial ghosts. Thought and behavior also follow the laws of nature.
Published 18 months ago by tom gerste
1.0 out of 5 stars Author seeking fame by association
I suspect that the entire function of this book is to try and build notoriety for the author by appearing to respond to someone else's work. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Capitan Typo
1.0 out of 5 stars Falls Short of Arguing or Effectively Communicating Anything...At...
Kurt Keefner, without fully developing a clear thesis or an effective compatabilist argument to counter Sam Harris' argument for behavioral determinism (posited in his essay... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Noah Eppler
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reading
The author writes in a clear and direct manner that makes the reading both enjoyable and informative. I would recommend this book to friends who enjoy a quick read.
Published 23 months ago by Victor
3.0 out of 5 stars Free Will: A response to Sam Harris
I enjoyed this response. I like reading Sam Harris' writings and also agree with some of the comments by Kurt Keefner. Read more
Published on September 21, 2012 by Jajadeh
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