World Philosophy Day Lecture Will Be on Physics and Freedom

World Philosophy Day is celebrated internationally on the third Thursday of November. NC State’s fourth World Philosophy Day Lecture will be on Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 4:30 p.m. in Riddick Hall, Room 301. The lecture will be given by Jenann Ismael, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, who will speak on the topic “Does Determinism Clash With Freedom? A look at human action through the lenses of physics.” All are welcome.

Ismael earned the Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. After teaching at Stanford and the University of Arizona, she moved on to Columbia University in Fall 2018. She is the author of many articles and three books: Essays on Symmetry (Garland Press, 2001), The Situated Self (Oxford University Press, 2007), which was described as “a brilliant study of fundamental issues by a leading philosopher,” and How Physics Makes Us Free (Oxford University Press, 2016), which James Farrell named as the best science book of the year in Forbes Magazine.

It is sometimes claimed that physics (in its classical, deterministic form) is incompatible with human freedom because it implies that our actions are not under our control. In her lecture, Ismael will take a closer look at what deterministic physics actually says about human action, and argue that the conflict is merely apparent. In particular, she will argue there is nothing in the fact of determinism—even the particularly strong form of local determinism that we have in classical physics—that is incompatible with the idea that human beings exercise genuinely pivotal control over their actions.

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