Show 575/576: Raoul Martinez on “Creating Freedom”

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?

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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

Show 572: Free Will and Building a Humanistic Society

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.

Show 460: Against Moral Responsibility w/Dr Bruce Waller

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.