Mark Balaguer argues that the question of libertarian free will reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In this BIT, refuting arguments both for and against determinism, Balaguer shows that the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.
What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.
Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. This BIT examines how democracy can lead to successful outcomes even when the defining characteristic of democracy, elections, is flawed.
Late nineteenth-century Britain saw an extraordinary surge in patent disputes over the new technologies of electrical power, lighting, telephony, and radio, which played out in the twin tribunals of the courtroom and the press. In this BIT, Stathis Arapostathis and Graeme Gooday examine the persistent conflicts over inventorship in electrical invention in this period, analyzing disputes over who should be considered the “first and true inventor” of early electrical technologies.
This BIT offers an excerpt from a book that has shaped the study of new media. In The Language of New Media, Lev Manovich offered the field’s first systematic and rigorous theory. Here, Manovich considers the computer as illusion generator, addressing such questions as the “reality effect” of new media images and the comparative illusionism of new media, photography, film, and video.
The career of computer visionary Grace Murray Hopper paralleled the meteoric trajectory of the postwar computer industry. This BIT describes the myth of “amazing Grace” and tells how she became “the third programmer of the world’s first computer.”
Energy innovation offers us our best chance to solve the three urgent and interrelated problems of climate change, worldwide insecurity over energy supplies, and rapidly growing energy demand. But if we are to achieve a timely transition to reliable, low-cost, low-carbon energy, the U.S. energy innovation system must be radically overhauled. This BIT describes innovation that enables low-carbon technologies to supplant natural gas and other fossil fuels for power generation.
In this BIT, the philosopher Mladen Dolar introduces a new, philosophically grounded theory of the voice. Dolar considers a Lacanian metaphysics of the voice, developing Lacan’s claim that the voice is one of the paramount embodiments of the psychoanalytic object.
The philosopher Michael Tye, reversing his previous position, rejects the phenomenal concept strategy (which holds that we possess a range of special concepts for classifying the subjective aspects of our experiences) and formulates another approach for defending materialism. In this BIT, he examines one puzzle of consciousness that philosophical materialism must confront after rejecting the phenomenal concept strategy.
Uncertainty in games—from Super Mario Bros. to Rock/Paper/Scissors—engages players and shapes play experiences. This BIT examines the sources of that uncertainty, from doubts about performance to a game’s elements of randomness.