Do we have free will? In what sense? What sort of free will are we supposed to be talking about? Who or what is a will a will of? What are praise and blame, guilt and innocence for? What is fatalism and why is it bad for you?
Challenge yourself by studying these questions with me this February (or anytime in future that suits you: see below). It will help you develop your own worldview and self-understanding. And it will help you combat Christian apologists who try to use bad ideas about “free will” to defend their faith and attack your philosophy of life. Or if you are a Christian yourself, you can benefit from acquiring a more informed perspective on free will, and the underlying science and concepts.
This is still my favorite course to teach! Affordable and fascinating. It goes into both the philosophy and the science. I think everyone should study it. Looking at free will as a subject gets you practiced in studying every aspect of philosophy and with thinking critically like a philosopher.
This course touches on: (1) how to construct a credible non-supernatural metaphysics from the findings of the sciences; (2) semantics and epistemology, and how you can claim to know things, and what it even is you are claiming to know; (3) politics and law—as conclusions about consent, autonomy, and free will entail fundamental assumptions in those domains; (4) and obviously also in matters of ethics and moral theory, like how we judge responsibility and why, and what we can reasonably expect from people, and how they can be manipulated; (5) it even touches on aesthetics, as the lived experience of living with or without freedom is a fundamental component of human happiness—so what is the difference between those feelings, and why do they matter?
In class we will engage in open discussion in private class forums, after reading an array of key documents, from courts of law, medical ethics boards, philosophy and psychology journals, neuroscience, and beyond. We will interact with, critique, and test the merits of Sam Harris’s book Free Will, which you will need to purchase for the course (print or digital, as you prefer). All the other readings will be provided for free.
It lasts one month. You can participate as much or as little as you like, and on any days and at any times of day you like. Use this course to pose all the challenges and ask all the questions you ever wanted of an expert on the matter of free will.
Join us and let’s have an interesting and educational discussion about both the science and philosophy of this central concept in Western thought, morality, society, and law! Come away from it knowing a lot more than you ever did, much of it likely fascinating and new.
New Method of Registering
I am moving all my online courses to a Google Groups platform. They will be more affordable. And I will gradually set things up so any of my ten standard courses will be available in any month. Courses will always start the first of the month and end at the close of that month. For this February, only my first course is on the roster: the Science & Philosophy of Free Will.
Registration for any single one-month course is only $49. Every course also requires you purchase a single course text, in either print or digital format, which you should give yourself plenty of time to receive before starting the course. For the Science & Philosophy of Free Will, the course text is Sam Harris’s book Free Will, which you can procure by following that link.
Students will require a Google Account (creating one is free and easy and has many other uses) and must pay the registration fee using my PayPal portal (you don’t need a PayPal account; any suitable credit or bank card will do). After paying the $49, email me with a note that you’ve paid and what for (the month and course; you can choose to start in any month; and remember to also get the course text, per above). In that email please provide me the same name you used with PayPal, and your Google Account email address, so I can invite you into the course forum. You will be sent that invite by email on or before the first of the month you chose.
Then participate as much or as little as you like! Read the assigned course materials each week, answer the forum challenge questions, and post any questions or challenges you have on the subject. I’ll provide serious and attentive answers and assessments and continue to engage with you as much as you need throughout the month.