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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph for non-believers of free will
I never write reviews on books I've read for fear of neglecting to do them justice, or revealing my lack of knowledge and education. Funny that I'm "choosing" to do so now. There must be a reason!

An easy to read and understand, fun and well written argument for the "nonsense of free will".

I wholeheartedly agree with Richard when he...
Published 11 months ago by Tammi Willis

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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Nonsense of Free Will
I found this discussion of free will and determinism disappointing for a number of reasons. The author explains that as a teenager he suddenly became aware that there is no such thing as free will, and that all human thoughts and decisions are purely part of a deterministic process. He is frank about the fact that he relished this revelatory experience, but by the same...
Published 20 months ago by Adrian


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph for non-believers of free will, 9 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Nonsense of Free Will: Facing up to a false belief (Kindle Edition)
I never write reviews on books I've read for fear of neglecting to do them justice, or revealing my lack of knowledge and education. Funny that I'm "choosing" to do so now. There must be a reason!

An easy to read and understand, fun and well written argument for the "nonsense of free will".

I wholeheartedly agree with Richard when he says that he has not "suffered any adverse consequences as a result of disbelief in free will". My rejection of free will has only had a positive effect on my personality. I'm now tolerant of others, not critical of myself, not anxious about the future, not regretful of the past. Generally I'm much more able to be mindful in the present, which appears to be a rather satisfying and stress free way to live. I haven't stabbed anyone or not bothered to get up in the mornings (because that's just not who I am). I've continued to live with the feeling that I'm making choices and decisions, even though I know that is a trick of the mind. It's liberating.

Confirmation bias suggests you're likely to only read this book if you already have a belief in determinism and/or non-belief in free will but if that's not the case I urge you to read it anyway and in return I'm now about to start a book advocating a belief in free will, even if only to shed light on the opposing argument and I suspect, shore up my belief (or non-belief) further.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very engaging and illuminating, 11 May 2013
This review is from: The Nonsense of Free Will: Facing up to a false belief (Kindle Edition)
I learned of this book after reading both Free Will by Sam Harris and Incognito by David Eagleman. Both are quite informative and I highly recommend them as well. However, I found this book much more compelling. Richard presents clear, precise arguments that are well structured and persuasive. He does not use simplistic word tricks or philosophical jargon. He methodically disassembles the standard understanding of free will as well as arguments from well known philosophers. He is clear from the beginning that this book is written for everyone. I especially recommend it for anyone who seeks to understand the true nature of reality and the self or to broaden ones sense of compassion for even the most despicable of people. Specifically for skeptics, freethinkers, and atheists, I think accepting a wider view of causality is the next step in embracing the true nature of humanity and adapting a moral code based science and facts as apposed to religious precepts or evolved instincts. By the end, Richard should leave you wondering why you believed in free will in the first place and with a whole new perspective on life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive demolition of free will, 30 May 2013
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C. Ritchie (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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Many books have been written on the determinism v. free will debate, some pro free will and some anti. This book is firmly in the first camp. It differs from most of the other books in that it is not written by a philosopher but by a retired lawyer. This produces a more common sense approach mostly free of philosophical jargon.
By and large it covers similar ground to other pro-determinist books but differs in a couple of notable aspects. First, he does not spend long dealing with the free will compatibilist position, probably believing, as I do, that there is nothing of value to be explored there. Secondly, reflecting his previous occupation and his association with the Howard League for Penal Reform, he spends a lot of pages dealing with the effect that the belief in free will has on society's understanding of errant behaviour and the treatment of criminals.
If you are looking for an easy to read yet powerful explanation of the determinism v. free will contest then I strongly recommend this book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars clear and illuminating, 14 May 2013
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This is a clear and illuminating book - very well-written and accessible. Taking a complex subject, it explores the arguments both for and against the existence of free will, before coming to the well-argued, and clearly illustrated conclusion that its existence is `nonsense'. A really good read for anyone who ever contemplates why we do what we do.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic addition to the post free will discussion, 6 Jan 2014
Richard Oerton's book is a fantastic addition to the growing literature about how we interpret a world without free will. Firstly he deals fairly with the philosophical arguments that support various forms of free will and settles on the increasingly accepted notion that the free will most people believe in is nonsensical and not something we need.

Secondly, using his extensive legal background, he analyses what a criminal justice system would look like without the notion of free will. My short answer is very similar to those that are so successful in Scandinavia...

Since it is free of excessive philosophy jargon the text is very accessible for those new to the topic and still rich and rewarding for those more familiar.

A 'must read', as they say.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Nonsense of Free Will, 23 May 2013
I found this book engaging and thought-provoking. I have no background in this field or the legal issues discussed but I enjoyed reading the book nonetheless. Recommended.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Nonsense of Free Will, 2 May 2013
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This review is from: The Nonsense of Free Will: Facing up to a false belief (Kindle Edition)
I found this discussion of free will and determinism disappointing for a number of reasons. The author explains that as a teenager he suddenly became aware that there is no such thing as free will, and that all human thoughts and decisions are purely part of a deterministic process. He is frank about the fact that he relished this revelatory experience, but by the same token, this makes it a bit unfair for him to go on to accuse defenders of free will of being motivated by wishful thinking, when he is no less emotionally committed himself, and indeed, describes the start of this commitment in terms akin to a religious conversion. His own philosophical defence of determinism, which he offers as part of his assault on the idea of free will, comes across as very weak: he assumes the validity of the 19th century La Place's thought experiment of the Divine Demon (who could predict every future event on the basis of a full knowledge of every present circumstance), he assumes a simplistic notion of cause and effect, and asserts without argument that no action can occur without a prior desire, thus failing to address the whole area of human calculation, reasoning, and awareness of truth or falsehood. Of course, he is not alone in making the leap from the useful methodological determinism employed by science to a far-reaching ontological determinism which covers everything, including all human activity and thought, but at least the leap should be acknowledged as such. His position veers between hard and soft determinism in a confused way, and his claim, in the final part of the book, that the presumed truth of determinism (and the falsehood of free will) should revolutionise our notions of moral desert and legal responsibiilty is both incoherent and worrying. It is incoherent, because if determinism is true, those who punish are no more free than those who do the crime, so the truth of determinism should have no implications for legal reform. (By contrast, belief in free will allows legislators and others to accept mitigating circumstances which might have diminished the operation of free will in a given case). It is worrying, because the author supposes that if criminals are not free, the idea of moral desert should be removed, and they should not be punished, but be programmed to behave better, in order to protect society. This, as many have argued in the past, would actually make the criminal vulnerable to an invasive manipulation of their psyche far more cruel and undignified than the notion of fixed-term retributive punishment. In summary, I do not know how one could establish the truth or falsehood of free will by philosophical argument, and I can't be sure that I am free, but this book completely failed to provide me with any reason to dismiss free will as 'nonsense'.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Inadequate, 1 Nov 2013
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Considers opposites as if life is not a compromise.
Leads no where, we still have to make decisions, whatever their roots
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