The Amherst Lecture In Philosophy.

Lecture 14, 2019

“Autonomy, Consciousness, and Freedom”
Daniel C. Dennett
Tufts University

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Free will is best understood as a particularly powerful – but vulnerable – ability to control oneself. This autonomy is independent of both determinism and indeterminism. Causation and control are not the same thing, as examples of remote control and ballistic trajectories reveal. Sam Harris has said. “A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.” He is right; loving your strings involves protecting them from those who would turn you into a puppet, and for this you need to preserve the privacy of your thinking. The appreciation of privacy has been inflated by many into a desire for absolute unpredictability, which is not required for the one variety of free will worth wanting.

Preferred citation
Dennett, Daniel C. “Autonomy, Consciousness, and Freedom.” The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy 14 (2019): 1–22. <>.