Sam Harris Argues with the Very Bad Wizards about Free Will etc.

Bestselling author and friend of the podcast Sam Harris joins Tamler and Dave for a marathon podcast. (Seriously, pack two pairs of astronaut diapers for this one). We talk about the costs and benefits of religion, dropping acid in India, and the illusory nature of (a certain kind of) free will. Then we go at it on blame, moral responsibility, hatred, guilt, retribution, and vengeance. Sam thinks these are antiquated responses based on a belief in spooky metaphysics, Tamler thinks they are important components of human morality, and Dave just wants everyone to get along and be reasonable (like that nice Kant fellow).

Time markers (roughly)

0:00-47:00 Intro and costs and benefits of religion

47:00-1:17:30 Drugs, the self, free will

1:17:30– Blame, guilt, vengeance, moral responsibility, desert.

From Episode #59 (‘Tumors All the Way Down’) of the Very Bad Wizards podcast, on 15 December 2014.

Information on the Hosts (in order of left to right):

David Pizarro,
I’m an associate professor in the department of psychology at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. I’m mostly interested in how and why humans make moral judgments (such as what makes us think certain actions are wrong, or that some people deserve blame or praise for their actions). I’m also interested in how emotions–especially disgust–influence a wide variety of social, political, and moral judgments.

Tamler Sommers,
I’m an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Houston. I teach primarily in ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law, specializing in issues relating to free will, moral responsibility, punishment, and revenge.
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  • Mike Cavallaro

    Sam Harris is very impressed with himself. He can't take nearly enough credit for all the wonderful things he does for mankind.

  • jcandnp

    Sam clearly is in the right – both empirically and in terms of moral logic. I just don't understand why he avoided calling out Tamler directly. If it were me I would have simply said "It's on you to provide logical justification for holding on to your sense of self-blame in the drunk driving case, because you can't know how much your mind would be changed by getting more detailed info about causality, BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE THE INFO YET!" I found Tamler to be downright petulant for the last 20 minutes of that exchange, and it almost ruined an otherwise interesting podcast.

  • MotorGoblin

    I appreciate the video description. A summary and time codes are really useful. Thank you!

  • SirGriffin87

    Having your child speak the intro to your show is dumb as fuck. Auto down vote.

  • Michael Zimmerman

    1:58:20 Define "functioning normally".

  • Michael Zimmerman

    This whole podcast, on the hosts part, is a demonstration of the poor human ability to quantify consequences… which comes to a head right around the 1:52:00 mark. Sam acknowledged that first-person experiences are objectively something to consider, as a consequentialist. Maybe if Sam had screen-shared and drawn a picture for these two in MS Paint, they'd get off of that single point.

  • potter j

    "there is a perrrrrson who, who, whoooo, might be a balanced grrristian person ! STOP DRINKING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • potter j

    Who put Sam out to laugh talking to you people

  • potter j

    You guys are dull as fuck, The more a guest to stop being annoyed is in an effort to help "Doctors without Borders" … he hurt you, i can hear the breathing, you weak ***nts …. children

  • thereddrob

    which host is the one that sounds like a drunken frat boy slurring his speech and trying to sit at the adult table but failing miserably?

  • HeavyProfessor


  • HeavyProfessor

    The hosts have average IQs, whereas the IQs of both me and Sam Harris are in the mid-100s. Mine was measured officially at 148, and that's why I agree with him. Anyone who is very intelligent agrees INTUITIVELY with Sam Harris' arguments. The hosts are STUPID FUCKING IDIOTS!

  • Janeen Clark

    there is no justification scientifically for the concepts of "reward and punishment" that is the idea that someone is more or less valuable or based on them doing what you want them to. however this is the problem with the way our language and thought process has evolved. look at religion itself the entire concept is eternal reward or punishment a flawed human concept not existing in reality based on language compartmentalization.

  • sol rayz

    “If we could read the secret history of our enemies,
    we should find in each man's life
    sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • Bradley Beckstead

    Sams argument on free will freaks people out.

  • 465marko

    Tamler…. I hate to be so judgmental, but no. Not with that name. Just no. No, Tamler, no!!! Stop!! Make it stop!!!!!
    parents should be tried for cruel and unusual punishment for that naming

  • Realist Jackanapes

    Hilarious. Free will.

    People… don't get it. We have no choice. We aren't punishing crime. We're responding to it. For a dopamine fix.

    Tamler gets a dopamine flood thinking he deserves a beating for driving drunk. I get the same fix. Not everyone does.

    Just like criminals are responding to their physiology, chasing that dopamine… Autonomic body responds, awareness (generated by the physiology) learns of this, post-hoc rationalization ensues… Like any bureaucrat – an arrogant parasite, we have no hope, we are nothing, we are so insignificant we aren't even worth hating, pitying, etc…

    It's hilarious to me right now. We shouldn't even call it awareness. We are pathetically *un*aware.

  • eonhand8

    The safe word is: patriot