Psychologist and guest host Damian Gracia interviews his psychology mentor, Pace University professor Paul Griffin. Following the interview is special discussion between Damian and Arnell Dowret addressing ideas that the interview raised.
Raoul Martinez on “Creating Freedom” (Two-Parter)
Oddly enough, on Equal Time for FREEthought, the term freedom doesn’t come up too often. Well, not in an affirmative fashion, at least. We’ve been around too long to believe in things like the free market, free elections, or free media (though on WBAI, we come the closest to this). But we do tend to advocate for free speech and, of course, free thought. But what does freedom mean? Are we free in modern Western societies and to what degree? Can freedom be created out of non-freedom? And what can our understanding of all this help us to build a healthier, more humanistic society?
Today we will talk with Raoul Martinez about these questions and more. Raoul is a writer, artist, and award-winning filmmaker. His documentary, ‘The Lottery of Birth‘, premiered in 2012 as episode one of a series entitled Creating Freedom. It was nominated for Best Documentary at London’s Raindance Film Festival and went on to win the Artivist Spirit 2012 Award at Hollywood’s Artivist Festival. Accompanying the series is Raoul’s first book, also called Creating Freedom, written over four years and informed by over a decade of research.
…Tune in, Pay it Forward, and Question Everything
Free Will and Building a Humanistic Society w/Gregg D. Caruso
In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of “Free Will.”
A Free-Will Skeptic might believe that whatever you choose to do at any given moment in time is ALL you could have done given your determinants. You could not have done otherwise. But if “Free Will” is indeed an illusion, not only might we have to rethink how and why we do what we do as regards efforts to change the world, but how we understand key aspects of how we treat one another today’s society. Does judgment make any sense if but there for the determinants go I? What about the bootstrapping ideology of the right and the notion of the self-made man/woman? Perhaps most significantly, however, might be how we view our entire criminal justice system.
Today we will explore with philosopher Gregg Caruso what we mean by free will, what the arguments for and against it have been in the past and currently, and what it would mean if we DON’T have free will – for ourselves and for society.
This week we will be acheterdufrance.com speaking with theoretical physicist and cosmologist Sean Carroll who returns to the show to discuss his new book, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself. His book is every bit as ambitious as it sounds, delving into philosophy, physics, biology, chemistry, and much more as he seeks to tie what we know into a “big picture” of existence itself.
Carroll is a research associate in the department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology where he specializes in Dark Energy and General Relativity. He’s been published in scientific journals such as Nature and New Scientist, and has appeared on episodes of Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, the History Channel’s The Universe, and the Colbert Report. He’s written several popular science books including From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time.
ETFF Tribute to Dr. Lester Garwood…
A friend of the show, and of its producers, has sadly gone too soon. On this special tribute program, we aired some of Dr. Lester Garwood’s best moments on Equal Time for Freethought…
Carl Sagan said we are all “Star Stuff”; But Lester shined more than most …
Consciousness and the Social Brain w/ Michael Graziano
What is consciousness and how can a brain, a mere collection of neurons, create it? The human brain has evolved a complex circuitry that allows it to be socially intelligent. This social machinery has only just begun to be studied in detail. One function of this circuitry is to attribute awareness to others: to compute that person Y is aware of thing X. Can the machinery that attributes awareness to others also attribute it to one’s self? If we were to damage that machinery, therefore, would we disrupt our own awareness? We will discuss the science, the evidence, the philosophy, and the surprising implications of this new theory with its presenter, Dr. Michael Graziano.
Joel Marks on A-moralism and the Philosophy of Desire
Because of the Darwinian revolution, and the Galilean revolution before it, we have been able to – intellectually at least – get past our early notions of gods and supernatural beliefs in general… And now we are tackling what seems to be more and more scientifically evidenced… the death of free will and the notion along with it of the self-made man. On ETFF we’ve discussed what ‘free will’ is, what determinism is, and how we might consider conducting ourselves in society when we know that no person is the ultimate author of their behaviors. But, while some have argued that while we can’t hold people morally responsible for their actions, others still believe that we can entertain the notions of morality itself. But is that the most logical way to look at the human condition? We’ll find out, on today’s edition of Equal Time for Freethought with Dr. Joel Marks!
Against Moral Responsibility w/Dr Bruce Waller
Humanity has had to adapt to deep philosophical and indeed psychological changes over the last 500 years. With the knowledge that came from geology and astronomy, we’ve learned we are not at the center of the universe, nor even a significant part of the “all that is.” From biology and genetics we have learned that we are a part of the animal kingdom, apes with big brains.. brains which, themselves have been programmed by nature much as a computer is programmed.
And we have also learned that there is no reason, nor any evidence, for us to believe in supernatural realms or beings for the universe to have come into existence, or for humanity to have thrived. Nature is our mother, and only nature (and perhaps our own ignorance) can put us under.
And, in the last twenty years, we have explored perhaps the most complex, most delicate feature of the universe, the human brain…and consciousness itself. What we are learning now can arguably be thought of as the most significant of our many scientific achievements and perhaps the most dangerous idea.. that Free-Will is an illusion and all our thoughts and behaviors are caused by an intricate combination of our genetic heritage, our environment, and our social experiences. Whatever choices or decisions we make, or actions we take, there are reasons for which there is little we can do outside of allowing ourselves the experiences, and to learn from our wrong-steps.
But what does this do to our sense of morality – gleamed from either our religions or our secular philosophies? That will be the subject of today’s conversation with Dr Bruce Waller: Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Youngstown State University in Ohio. Dr. Waller received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his books include Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues; Critical Thinking: Consider the Verdict; You Decide!: Current Debates in Criminal Justice; And his latest, Against Moral Responsibility published by MIT Press.