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A Review of Searle's Freedom and Neurobiology

Posted 23 Jan 2008 at 19:49 UTC by steve Share This

A robots.net reader sent a link to a Times Online review of John Searle's new book, Freedom and Neurobiology. The review, by David Papineau, offers some insight into both the book and Searle: "Whenever he is faced with a conflict between common sense and arcane philosophical doctrine, he backs common sense every time." The problem comes when common sense and reality don't match up, "When everyday thinking is incoherent, apparently obvious truths may need to be jettisoned. Sometimes it just isn’t enough to hold fast to common thinking. In cases like these, Searle’s down-home attitude can sometimes look like little more than refusal to address the real questions." In this book Searle takes on free will and, not surprisingly, takes a view opposite of that expressed by Daniel C Dennett in his book, Freedom Evolves. Predictably, Searle falls back on the same explanation for free will that he uses for consciousness, quantum mechanics. His reasoning seems to be that phenomenon X seems very mysterious, quantum mechanics seems very mysterious, therefore quantum mechanics must be the cause of X. That's common sense for you.

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