Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Elbow Room-The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting by Daniel C. Dennett

Elbow Room-The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting by Daniel C. Dennett

YES rsvp’s: Earl, Susan, Joyce, Bill, Julie, Gary, Fred, Michael F. , John R.

Meeting is full unless someone drops out.  It is dinner at Bill and Joyce's home on April 9th.

If we have nine topic questions at 10 minutes each, the meeting will last for approximately an hour and a half. So if we want to keep the discussion to 1.5 hours then I need to reduce these down to nine topic questions:

1. [pages 5-8] He starts out asking us these questions:
a. Are we in a prison?
b. Are we controlled by a puppeteer?
c. Are we like the dog on a leash?
2. [pages 11 & 23-26] Are we like the Digger Wasp?
3. [page 21] What do you think of teleology?
4. [page 53] Did you like his model airplane example? We have degrees of freedom.
5. [page 63] I think this is the major point of the book: free will is in the planning. The smarter you are, the better you can plan.
6. [Pages 64-65] Do the media manipulate us? What can we do about it?
7. [page 78] Do you think we witness the arrival of the decision?
8. [page 85] Do you like the example of the manufacturer as to why we hold people responsible?
9. [page 104-105] Determinism is not fatalism.
10. [page 167] Thinking ahead is better than remorse.

What do you think of these sentences (quotes from the book):
11. [page 28] Brains are meaning manipulators and information processors.
12. [page 45] So although we arrive on this planet with a built-in biologically endorsed set of biases, although we innately prefer certain states of affairs to others, we can nevertheless build lives from this base that overthrow those innate preferences.
13. [page 72] We would like to be as immune as possible from manipulation and dirty tricks and as sensitive as possible to harbingers of future vicissitudes that might cause us to alter course in the right ways—so that we can face the world with as much elbow room as we can get.
14. [page 87-88] “the over examined life is nothing to write home about either”
15. [page 108] “..the deliberator must have the capacity ….to foresee the causal milieu into which it will soon pass. And it must foresee this reliably, swiftly and accurately.”
16. [pages 158-159] “We are no angels…..In an ideal world, it seems, everyone would see the right thing and do it.”
17. [page 162] “holding people responsible is the best game in town.”
18. [page 168] You have to believe you have free will before you can have it. Even if free will isn’t true, it is a life enhancing illusion.

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