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Free Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful Illusion
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Free Will Explained: How Science and Philosophy Converge to Create a Beautiful Illusion

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  12 reviews
A compelling essay on free will from an internationally recognized authority on atheism, and author ofGod: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.

Do we have free will? And if we don’t, why do we feel as if we do? In a godless universe governed by impersonal laws of cause and effect, are you responsible for your actions? Former evangelical minister Dan Barker (God: T
Paperback, 160 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Sterling
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3.93  · 
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 ·  41 ratings  ·  12 reviews

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Mar 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dan Barker does a good job of explaining the concept of free will as an illusion much like what Daniel Dennett does in his philosophical writings. Barker uses a number of good analogies to explain how FW is a useful illusion--one that is necessary for humans to live as responsible, accountable members of the social world. His analogies and explanation offer good arguments against absolute determinists who argue against any kind of free will at all. Although I agree with a lot of what he writes, ...more
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is my first foray in to the deterministic / free will debate and I think it was a good introduction. Instead of choosing sides, Dan explains both and introduces his idea of “harmonic free will” which combines social and scientific aspects of the debate. After reading this book I tend to agree with this perspective although I have not read some of the more thoroughly research arguments presented by such experts as Sam Harris. Dan makes a clear and uncomplicated argument, though. This sh ...more
Jakub Ferencik
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I had a difficult time understanding Barker's argument in this book. He keeps equating free will with jazz and a chipmunk he likes to feed on his porch (v. cute tho). It was later in the book that I started understanding why he thinks his acompatibilist view of free will works (a term he coined) & where his argument falls short.

Barker thinks that determinists cannot talk about free will since there's no point - everything's determined he says. "Hard determinists do act as if they are free to
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
An honest attempt, but a poor one.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
If you're looking for a book to explain the intricacies of the determinism/free will debate, this is not that book. Instead, Barker uses musical metaphors to describe his own theory on how free will and determinism are not incompatible, but as he defines it, acompatible. An interesting read, and one that brings up good points on how humans think in the collective, as a society. It just was not what I had expected based on the book's description.
Jonny Andres
Dan Barker definitely never disappoints. Another great read.
Jonathan Kear
May 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of the reflections in this book were very well thought-out, but some of them simply didn't do anything for me.
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: own, philosophy, secular
I read a portion of this book before purchase and was very excited to read it. The first couple chapters did a great job dispelling the idea of what Barker calls the 'Libertarian Free Will'. After completing the first few chapters I felt that he had given excellent arguments for Hard Determinism, and then came the linguistic gymnastics.

Ultimately, Barker want's to be a Hard Determinist that also feels like the concept of free will has a purpose. He, like many others, sets up a straw-man argument
John Strubhart
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had no choice but to write this, so here goes! I don't have free will, but I sure feel like I do, so it's an illusion. Dan Barker argues that the illusion is a useful one. In this concise treatment, Dan uses a variety of analogies and personal experiences to present the idea that free will is a result of moral judgment that occurs after a decision is made. As Sean Carroll would say, it's a way of talking about something, that's not objectively real - useful, but clearly an illusion.

I'm down w
Joe Sampson
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: free-will, philosophy
It is well written although sometimes hard to understand. He believes that free will is an illusion - however I do not believe that he has proved his case. He assumes that free will is inconsistent with determinism. If one accepts that a decision causes an act it does not follow that the decision was predetermined even though it had a cause.
Charlie Miller
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dan Barker has done a very good job explaining “free will”. If it were perfectly clear to me that I had free will I would have given the book five stars. At least I now understand the difference between determinism and free will and how they can coexist. Still confused but less so. Thanks Dan.
Mick Jackson
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
very informayive
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