Daniel Dennett Professor of Philosophy

Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University


Daniel Dennett is a philosopher and cognitive scientist renowned for his contributions to both the philosophy of mind and the New Atheist movement. Dennett firmly believes that consciousness is the result of physical processes. He says that, while consciousness often seems like it requires a miracle to be explained, it is actually generated by a number of tricks in the brain. His views on the existence of free will in human beings have been particularly influential; Dennett believes in determinism on the level of physics, but that humans have a special ability to freely respond to situations on the human level. This ability is our brain’s capacity to make predictions about the future, and to consciously reflect on our own existence, which, in Dennett’s view, means that we have moral responsibility for the choices that we make. Human beings have a “soul,” says Dennett, “But what’s [the soul] made of? It’s made of neurons. It’s made of lots of tiny robots. And we can actually explain the structure and operation of that kind of soul, whereas an eternal, immortal, immaterial soul is just a metaphysical rug under which you sweep your embarrassment for not having any explanation.”

Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology
Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting 

The Mind's I (with Douglas Hofstadter)
Content and Consciousness
The Intentional Stance
Consciousness Explained
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness
Brainchildren: Essays on Designing Minds (Representation and Mind)
Freedom Evolves
Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Neuroscience and Philosophy: Brain, Mind, and Language 
(co-authored with Maxwell Bennett, Peter Hacker, and John Searle  
Science and Religion (co-authored with Alvin Plantinga)

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