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Author to challenge concept of free will at AVC forum Aug. 28

Norm Haughness

Author and philosopher Dr. Norm Haughness will discuss his views that challenge the concept humans have a free will as Antelope Valley College hosts “Freedom is a Dangerous Illusion,” 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 in the college Board Room, SSV 151, 3041 W. Ave. K, Lancaster.

The free public presentation will include AVC philosophy instructors Dr. Sherri Zhu, whose doctoral dissertation was focused on freedom, and Dr. Claude Gratton.

Haughness admits the position he offers in his book “The Grandest Illusion: The Seductive Myth of Free Will,” is not popular, yet he documents serious philosophical problems with the commonly held view that people have a free will.

It’s a concept that intrigued Haughness back in the 1960s while at Southern Illinois University performing doctoral work on ethical judgments.

Haughness insists “our moral decision making is not the fully rational and deliberative process our vanity and traditions pretend.

“’Grandest Illusion’ takes this analysis several steps further, in an attempt to show that all human motivation and action are part of the universal causal chain that it is the function of science to investigate and explain.”

As a result, some have labeled Haughness a “hard-core determinist” on the issue of human decision making, yet the author prefers to think of himself as a realist “who simply faces facts.”

Issues raised through the free will/determinism debate are really matters of psychology, rather than philosophy, according to Haughness. “Why do we act as we do, and where do our motives come from? Is there really a ‘willing’ faculty present in and unique to humans?” Haughness said.

The event is sponsored by the college’s professional development program.