Richard discusses the classic philosophical problem of free will — that is, the question of whether we decide things for ourselves, or are forced to go one way or another. He distinguishes between two different worries. One worry is that the laws of physics, plus facts about the past over which we have no control, determine what we will do, and that means we’re not free. Another worry is that because the laws and the past determine what we’ll do, someone smart enough could know what we would do ahead of time, so we can’t be free. He says the second worry is much worse than the first, but argues that the second doesn’t follow from the first.

Professor of Philosophy at University of Cambridge

I’m a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, and a fellow of Peterhouse. Before that I taught at MIT, and before that at Monash, the ANU, Sheffield and Edinburgh. I did my BA in PPE at University College, Oxford, did some graduate work at Nuffield College and the Ecole normale superieure in Paris, and then did my PhD at Princeton. These days I work mainly in moral psychology and related areas, but also in ethics, philosophy of law and philosophy of language.

View Website