20+ min read · Apr 27th · The long read: A growing chorus of scientists and philosophers argue that free will does not exist. Could they be right?
According to the public intellectual Yuval Noah Harari, free will is an anachronistic myth – useful in the past, perhaps, as a way of motivating people to fight against tyrants or oppressive ideologies, but rendered obsolete by the power of modern data science to know us better than we know ourselves, and thus to predict and manipulate our choices.
Smilansky is an advocate of what he calls “illusionism”, the idea that although free will as conventionally defined is unreal, it’s crucial people go on believing otherwise – from which it follows that an article like this one might be actively dangerous.
2 min read · 2020-09-03 · A new two-stage model seeks to answer a longstanding philosophical debate over whether consciousness is continuous or discrete. Findings suggest discrete consciousness is preceded by a long-lasting…
4 min read · Apr 27th · Rasha Shraim’s education helped her to think more deeply about ethics, logic and other big questions.
Philosophy has expanded my critical and creative thinking. Philosophical arguments often lead to imaginative edge cases and a dive into hypotheticals, which I frequently find creatively stimulating.
Thinking creatively while maintaining a critical and methodical approach carried over into my research. For example, studying instrumentalism — the philosophical idea that science does not uncover fundamental truths about the world, but merely provides us with tools to help us navigate it — helped me to adopt a more fluid approach to research and look for useful tools wherever I could find them.
Beyond methods and data, philosophy pushed me to inwardly and outwardly examine the values and ethics behind science. Researchers are human, and our subjectivity and values inevitably influence our work.
7 min read · Apr 6th · The questions of moral philosophy are not always best answered by philosophy books, says leading moral philosopher, Jonathan Glover.
The Nazis made people operate the gas chambers as a way of deferring their own deaths. One of the most evil things about the Nazis was the way they tried to destroy not only their victims’ lives but also their moral integrity, by means of coercive moral dilemmas.