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Daniel C. Dennett

Daniel C. Dennett is University Professor and Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University. He is the author of Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology, Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds, Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness, all published by the MIT Press, and other books.

Titles by This Author

The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting

In this landmark 1984 work on free will, Daniel Dennett makes a case for compatibilism. His aim, as he writes in the preface to this new edition, was a cleanup job, “saving everything that mattered about the everyday concept of free will, while jettisoning the impediments.” In Elbow Room, Dennett argues that the varieties of free will worth wanting—those that underwrite moral and artistic responsibility—are not threatened by advances in science but distinguished, explained, and justified in detail.

Using Humor to Reverse-Engineer the Mind

Some things are funny—jokes, puns, sitcoms, Charlie Chaplin, The Far Side, Malvolio with his yellow garters crossed—but why? Why does humor exist in the first place? Why do we spend so much of our time passing on amusing anecdotes, making wisecracks, watching The Simpsons? In Inside Jokes, Matthew Hurley, Daniel Dennett, and Reginald Adams offer an evolutionary and cognitive perspective. Humor, they propose, evolved out of a computational problem that arose when our long-ago ancestors were furnished with open-ended thinking.

Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness

In the years since Daniel Dennett's influential Consciousness Explained was published in 1991, scientific research on consciousness has been a hotly contested battleground of rival theories—"so rambunctious," Dennett observes, "that several people are writing books just about the tumult." With Sweet Dreams, Dennett returns to the subject for "revision and renewal" of his theory of consciousness, taking into account major empirical advances in the field since 1991 as well as recent theoretical challenges.

Essays on Designing Minds

How are we able to understand and anticipate each other in everyday life, in our daily interactions? Through the use of such "folk" concepts as belief, desire, intention, and expectation, asserts Daniel Dennett in this first full-scale presentation of a theory of intentionality that he has been developing for almost twenty years. We adopt a stance, he argues, a predictive strategy of interpretation that presupposes the rationality of the people—or other entities—we are hoping to understand and predict.

The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting

Anyone who has wondered if free will is just an illusion or has asked 'could I have chosen otherwise?' after performing some rash deed will find this book an absorbing discussion of an endlessly fascinating subject. Daniel Dennett, whose previous books include Brainstorms and (with Douglas Hofstadter) The Mind's I, tackles the free will problem in a highly original and witty manner, drawing on the theories and concepts of several fields usually ignored by philosophers; not just physics and evolutionary biology, but engineering, automata theory, and artificial intelligence.

Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology

This collection of 17 essays by the author offers a comprehensive theory of mind, encompassing traditional issues of consciousness and free will. Using careful arguments and ingenious thought-experiments, the author exposes familiar preconceptions and hobbling institutions. The essays are grouped into four sections: Intentional Explanation and Attributions of Mentality; The Nature of Theory in Psychology; Objects of Consciousness and the Nature of Experience; and Free Will and Personhood.