Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942) has published on philosophical topics such as free will, philosophy of mind and the importance of evolutionary biology for understanding such philosophical issues.
Dennett has made the argument that there is no contradiction in the idea that consciousness can arise from the complex interactions of non-conscious physical components of the brain.
Dennett has described how humans evolved a behavioral strategy, the intentional stance, by which it is possible for people to predict the behavior of others by making use of personal awareness of how they would themself behave.
Dennett places control at the heart of what we mean by "free will". We have free will to the extent that we control our own behavior by making use of what we have learned from our past experiences. We are not conscious of the details of our neural brain processes that control our behavior, allowing us to imagine that we are able to make behavioral choices. However, the self, which we feel is endowed with free will, is a mental construct arising within a virtual reality that is generated by deterministic physical brain activity.
- ^ Dennett's early book on how mind arises from brain was Brainstorms : Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology (MIT Press 1981) (ISBN 0262540371). He then collaborated with Douglas Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach, to publish the collection of essays about mind called The Mind's I (Bantam, Reissue edition 1985 (ISBN 0553345842). Consciousness Explained (Back Bay Books 1992) (ISBN 0316180661) presented Dennett's theory of consciousness. Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (Basic Books 1997) (ISBN 0465073514) was an exploration of the different kinds of minds that have been produced by natural selection.
- ^ The Intentional Stance (MIT Press; Reprint edition 1989) (ISBN 0262540533)
- ^ Dennett's first book on free will was Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting (MIT Press 1984)(ISBN 0262040778). His more recent book, placing free will in its fully evolutionary context was Freedom Evolves (Viking Press 2003) (ISBN 0670031860).