What is the relation between free will and meaning? I was watching the youtube video of Naom Chomsky and I couldn't understand his claim "anyone who denies in freewill believes it is there ... " over here.

Can someone elaborate? I think this claim is coupled with some other values/beliefs? If so, what are they?

  • 2
    It's a very old fallacy I am honestly surprised to hear from Chomsky. "Choosing to deny free will is a choice, which requires free will". It begs the question by assuming that what we call "choice" requires free will, which is precisely the point of the debate. But people could also be determined in not believing in free will, and it seems absurd to say people choose their beliefs.
    – armand
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


I think he means that if one denies free will, they should deny that their argument is a result of free thinking. However, if their argument is not the result of free thinking, it does not mean the argument is inherently incorrect.

Computers use algorithms to calculate and estimate results we deem "correct". That does not mean computers must have free will.


He actually clarifies this in one of the stonybrook interviews (also on youtube). He means that if free will didn't exist, then there'd be no point arguing against it. The mere act of arguing against free will implies that the person who receives those ideas may be able to change their perspective on free will (otherwise what's the point of arguing the issue?). But if one change one's ideas around free will, then one has free will.

  • This seems too clever by half to me. If you believe in hard determinism, and advocate for it, then you necessarily believe that you have no choice but to advocate for it, regardless of whether it will accomplish anything.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 20:54
  • So many problems with this take of his!
    – TKoL
    Commented Jul 23, 2021 at 16:16

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