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What is Free Will?
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What is Free Will?


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About This Lesson

Is it possible that free will is an illusion? It might not seem that way but there is compelling scientific evidence that indicates that may be the case. But, the internal feeling we all have of possessing free will still remains. How do we connect these two ideas?

The following videos are meant to shed light on the conversation going on today about free will and three different points of view free will held by some of the world’s leading thinkers. Use the ideas covered in these videos as starting points for discussions and debates. Questions to ask include: how do we reconcile our internal feeling of free will with evidence that everything that happens in the natural world is due to antecedent conditions that make it so? If the human “mind” is no more than the physical brain, and the brain is governed by physics, how can a person have free will? Does the physical world and its governing laws determine everything, or is there another explanation that would allow us to have free will?

Please bookmark the video URLs for quick reference when designing discussions or showing them to your class.

Video URLs

Alfred Mele -

John Searle -

Dan Dennett - 

Dean Zimmerman -


Alfred Mele, Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University:

John Searle, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley:

Daniel Dennett, Philosopher, Tufts University:

Dean Zimmerman, Philosopher, Rutgers University:


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