VIDEO

Daniel Dennett: An Introduction to Intuition Pumps

Daniel Dennett, one of the best-known living philosophers and a professor at Tufts University, believes it's time to unmask the philosopher's art and make thought experimentation accessible to a wider audience. "How to Think Like a Philosopher," Dennett's five-part workshop, is a journey into the labyrinthine mind games played by Dennett and his colleagues For the more utilitarian-minded, these are mental practices that will improve your ability to focus and think both rationally and creatively. How to Think Like a Philosopher takes you on a guided tour through many of Dennett's favorite "tools for thinking." Along the way, he teaches you: - The value of "intuition pumps" (or thought experiments) and how to use them. - How to recognize common rhetorical tricks for manufacturing consent. - Why free will doesn't always imply unpredictability. - How to "twiddle the knobs" of thought, exploring alternatives and the conclusions they lead to.

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Daniel Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
02:49
VIDEO

Daniel Dennett: Stop Telling People They Don't Have Free Will

Philosopher Daniel Dennett takes issue with neuroscientists who argue that humans don't have free will. In this video, Dennett demonstrates an intuition pump (or thought experiment) featuring a "nefarious neurosurgeon" who lies to a patient with obsessive compulsive disorder. Dennett argues that telling people that free will is an illusion makes them less concerned about the negative implications of their actions.

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Daniel Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
05:33
VIDEO

Daniel Dennett: How Does the Brain Store Beliefs?

What if beliefs could be surgically inserted into a patient's brain? This is the basis of one of philosopher Daniel Dennett's thought experiments in exploration of how the brain represents beliefs. Dennett argues that individual beliefs are part of broader idea systems and that they couldn't possibly be stored like a library of belief sentences.

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Daniel Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
04:05
VIDEO

Daniel Dennett Dissects a Bad Thought Experiment

Schrödinger's cat. The prisoner's dilemma. The trolley problem. These are brand names as much as they're philosophical thought experiments. Philosopher Daniel Dennett explains the importance of concocting an attractive package in which to wrap your argument. At the same time, Dennett warns that this can backfire and, to demonstrate, he dissects one of his "favorite bad thought experiments," an investigation of free will based on the sci-fi film "The Boys From Brazil."

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Daniel Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
06:23
VIDEO

Daniel Dennett: How Life is Like a Game of Rock-Paper-Scissors

Philosopher Daniel Dennett dissects the strategies behind the game rock-paper-scissors and determines that randomness/indeterminacy is the optimal strategy. The best way to avoid being detected by your opponent is to rely on a random determination of which move to use. Some people have jumped to the conclusion that maintaining a sense of indeterminacy is optimal for living a life in which one is always in competition with outside forces. While perfect indeterminacy would be an asset for playing rock-paper-scissors, Dennett argues it's not really that necessary in other most other aspects of life.

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Daniel Dennett
Professor of Philosophy and Co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University
04:01