Article

Contributions of Neuroscience to the Free Will Debate: From random movement to intelligible action

Henrik Walter

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Second edition

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780195399691
Published online September 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780195399691.003.0027

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Contributions of Neuroscience to the Free Will Debate: From random movement to intelligible action

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This article discusses a range of recent research in cognitive neuroscience and social psychology with implications for free-will debates, including experiments of social psychologists showing that unconscious cognitive and emotional factors sometimes influence our actions and decisions although we are unaware of these influences and think we had our own conscious reasons to act; evidence from clinical neuroscience and studies of split-brain patients that our conscious reasons are sometimes confabulations; and neuroscientific studies of moral reasoning and cognitive control, among other topics. The article discusses the challenge of neuroscience to our everyday ways of thinking about morality and about moral and legal responsibility and argues that neuroscience may require that we revise our views to some degree about these matters in the future.

Keywords: social psychology; cognitive neuroscience; free-will debates; split-brain; moral reasoning; legal responsibility

Article.  7191 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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