Neuroscience, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility

Walter Glannon

in Brain, Body, and Mind

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734092
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894475 | DOI:
Neuroscience, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility

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This chapter argues that findings from cognitive neuroscience do not show that free will is an illusion and points our flaws in the argument from illusion. The fact that a mental state or event has a physical cause in the brain does not imply that it is not among the causes of an action. Nor does it imply that our actions are coerced or compelled. We have enough control of our conscious mental states to be the authors of them and the actions in which they issue. The chapter also discusses the neurobiological basis of moral responsibility and maintains that brain dysfunction impairs or undermines responsibility when it impairs or undermines the mental capacity necessary for responsibility.

Keywords: constraint; determinism; epiphenomenalism; free will; illusion; mechanism; moral responsibility; psychopathy

Chapter.  16660 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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