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Free Will?: An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book Paperback – November 3, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Ginger Prince Publications (November 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956694802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956694805
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,562,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By dcleve on September 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Free Will - an investigation into whether I was always going to write this book, by Jonathan Pearce, was a thoroughly enjoyable intellectual amble. Pearce is not a professional or academic philosopher, and he does most of his philosophizing at the local pub with a group of likeminded "tippling philosophers", and brings this style to the book. He is also well read as to what academic philosophers are thinking. This combination, a well informed writer, who writes in a conversational "pub" style without academic jargon, makes for a particularly accessible and non-dogmatic read.

While the book is organized into sections and chapters, their content repeats somewhat, and subjects and themes cross between chapters and sections freely. I did not find the book to have any linear or cumulative structure to it, though it seemed to break down into three main portions. The first portion of the book introduces the reader to the problem - that Free Will seems to be incompatible with either causation or randomness, and pretty much everything seems to be either caused or random, so there is no obvious method that Free Will could work. Pearce introduces the Libertarian, Compatabilist, and Determinist POVs as ways to resolve this conflict, and expresses his views that Libertarianism is incoherent, Compatabilism is just sugar-coated Determinism, and that he is a happy Determinist. He also introduces his theme of second-guessing the judicial system, in particular its retributive and judgmental aspects.

The middle portion of the book elaborates on these three POVs. While it does not add much to understanding of Libertarianism or Compatabilism, this portions discussion on Determinism was particularly interesting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book elucidates the three most commonly held ideas of free will (Libertarian, Compatibilism, Determinism) and examines each. Using a bit of humor, facts and anecdotes the author succinctly takes the position of determinism while being humble enough to admit that his views are tentative as more facts come in. (Though, it seems as more facts do come in they continue to prove determinism despite our wish for the opposite!)

Excellent book and probably should be the starting place for those interested in the topic, regardless if you come from a secular or a theistic background. The author includes the facts of determinism also while considering some of the Christian claims which I thought was very interesting.

Come join the Tippling philosophers and get ready to have your mind stimulated.
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I recommend this entertaining and well-argued, mind-blowing book in which the author examines a notion we all seem to take for granted in the West, i.e., our dearly beloved notion of free will. In this book we learn that in spite of the overwhelming dominance of this cherished notion deeply embedded in our cultural, legal and religious belief systems, it is clearly scientifically and demonstratively false and does not exist. First, the author gives us the basic definitions of terms, then examples, philosophical and historical arguments, important religious positions and rebuttals. One of the author's early hypothetical examples is about a couple going out to dinner and trying to decide what to eat. To "choose" to have pizza, the couple has to rely on many reasons determined by a variety of known and unknown facts concerning their biology, psychology, economic status, childhood and the environment causing their preferences and showing their overriding susceptibility to these kinds of influences that leave no room for a free choice on their part. After the author brought up this couple for the third time, I had to put my Kindle down and go to the kitchen and heat up a pizza! I was falling under the discussion's suggestion that pizza would taste pretty good right now and I realized I was demonstrating the author's point about human susceptibility to suggestion and lack of free will by my own spontaneous behavior!

The author convincingly shows that determinism is borne out in countless recent scientific discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, biochemistry, physics and genetics which new findings are important and have wide application in all aspects of our lives.
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This is a really good book written for intelligent laymen and not philosophers. As such it is incredibly effective and well done. The author brings in a wide range of evidence against free will and discusses the three main philosophical ideas related to free will - libertarianism, compatablism, and determinism and the arguments for and against them.

I really think the 50 pages of text on biblical prophecy and theological determinism was a little much. Obviously it is tangentially related to the topic but he spent way too much time on it and I got tired of it. The book would have been better with a little less of this, however it is so good otherwise I still give it 5 stars.

Highly recommended.
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