Free Will versus Determinism: The Web Comic


Like everyone else I know, I am of course a longtime fan of the webcomic XKCD. But somehow it took me until last week to become aware of the frequently brilliant competitor Luke Surl, of which the above is a delectable example. What else out there am I missing?

Hat tip to Harry Brighouse of Crooked Timber.

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13 Responses to “Free Will versus Determinism: The Web Comic”

  1. 1 1 Martin
  2. 2 2 Robbie Clarken

    PhD is another great webcomic about academic life (when they aren’t being preachy like in the current strip).

  3. 3 3 jambarama

    I’ve been partial to Amazing Super Powers and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal myself. The jokes are usually accessible and clever.

  4. 4 4 Sprobert
  5. 5 5 Steve Landsburg

    Martin: These are great. Thank you.

  6. 6 6 bart.mitchell

    Classics. SMBC is one of my favorites. I also love Sluggy Freelance, but you have to read all of them. Its a 11 year story thats’s still going. How can you go wrong with a sociopathic lop eared rabbit, an inflatable space ship, a guy in a trench coat who invents dimension traveling machines in his basement, or an nerd with a magic sword?

    On the more serious topic of free will and determinism, I have a question. After reading the arguments and the science, I lost my belief in free will. If humans lack free will, then why are personal freedoms so important?

  7. 7 7 Perry Bible Fellowship

    Perry Bible Fellowship in my opinion is one of the best comic strips ever created. A random sampling (Steve would love this since I assume he does not like Robin Hood)

    There is probably not a single comic which one may dislike!!

  8. 8 8 Jonathan Kariv

    spiked math, order of the stick and abstruse goose (also Phd and xkcd but these have been mentiond above)

  9. 9 9 MattF

    Basic Instructions is one of my favorites, and Slow Wave is just… extremely unique.

  10. 10 10 Snorri Godhi

    This reminds me that it’s been a while since I last looked at

    Warning: it manages to be both offensive to the religious and un-PC. Those are not problems for me, but sometime I find it a bit preachy (for the church of atheism) or a bit in bad taste; but that is, of course, a matter of taste.

    As for free will:
    First, I note that it is not necessary to accept determinism to reject free will: true randomness also excludes free will. In fact, I am not sure what people really mean by “free will”, since it can be neither determinism nor randomness, nor any combination limited to these two alternatives.
    Second, nonetheless I do accept that we have free will, in the sense that we are free to choose the actions most suited to our goals. (By comparison, a thermostat has a goal, but no choice in what action to use.) What we are not free to do is to choose our goals, except on the basis of meta-goals (or randomly). Thus, if we exclude an infinite regress, we do not have full free will; but what we have is better than nothing, and I would not give it away.

  11. 11 11 John Faben

    Definitely have to second Abstruse Goose – it’s still just as good as xkcd used to be.

  12. 12 12 dave

    but there is a joke, dr. landsburg. it is also on page 72.

  13. 13 13 GregS

    I’m happy to see PhD comics has a large following. I recommend “Axe Cop.” It’s an idea by a five year old boy and illustrated by his 29 year old cartoonist brother. Really made me laugh. It’s freakin’ brilliant!

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