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Is Free Will an Illusion? Confronting Challenges from the Modern Mind Sciences

In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, vol. 4: Freedom and Responsibility. MIT Press (2014)

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  1. Free Will is Not a Testable Hypothesis.Robert Northcott - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (3):617-631.
    Much recent work in neuroscience aims to shed light on whether we have free will. Can it? Can any science? To answer, we need to disentangle different notions of free will, and clarify what we mean by ‘empirical’ and ‘testable’. That done, my main conclusion is, duly interpreted: that free will is not a testable hypothesis. In particular, it is neither verifiable nor falsifiable by empirical evidence. The arguments for this are not a priori but rather are based on a (...)
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  • Free Will as a Psychological Accomplishment.Eddy Nahmias - 2016 - In David Schmidtz & Carmen Pavel (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Freedom. Oxford University Press.
    I offer analyses of free will in terms of a complex set of psychological capacities agents possess to varying degrees and have varying degrees of opportunities to exercise effectively, focusing on the under-appreciated but essential capacities for imagination. For an agent to have free will is for her to possess the psychological capacities to make decisions—to imagine alternatives for action, to select among them, and to control her actions accordingly—such that she is the author of her actions and can deserve (...)
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  • Your Brain as the Source of Free Will Worth Wanting: Understanding Free Will in the Age of Neuroscience.Eddy Nahmias - forthcoming - In Gregg Caruso & Owen Flanagan (eds.), Neuroexistentialism: Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press.
    Philosophical debates about free will have focused on determinism—a potential ‘threat from behind’ because determinism entails that there are conditions in the distant past that, in accord with the laws of nature, are sufficient for all of our decisions. Neuroscience is consistent with indeterminism, so it is better understood as posing a ‘threat from below’: If our decision-making processes are carried out by neural processes, then it might seem that our decisions are not based on our prior conscious deliberations or (...)
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  • Libet-Style Experiments, Neuroscience, and Libertarian Free Will.Marcelo Fischborn - 2016 - Philosophical Psychology 29 (4):494-502.
    People have disagreed on the significance of Libet-style experiments for discussions about free will. In what specifically concerns free will in a libertarian sense, some argue that Libet-style experiments pose a threat to its existence by providing support to the claim that decisions are determined by unconscious brain events. Others disagree by claiming that determinism, in a sense that conflicts with libertarian free will, cannot be established by sciences other than fundamental physics. This paper rejects both positions. First, it is (...)
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  • Enhancing Responsibility: Directions for an Interdisciplinary Investigation.Marcelo Fischborn - 2018 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Santa Maria
    [Note: articles 1-5 are in English; Intro, Discussion, and Conclusion are in Portuguese.] Responsibility practices that are part of our daily lives involve, among other things, standards about how one should praise, blame, or punish people for their actions, as well as particular acts that follow those standards to a greater or lesser extent. A classical question in philosophy asks whether human beings can actually be morally responsible for what they do. This dissertation argues that addressing this classical question is (...)
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  • Questions for a Science of Moral Responsibility.Marcelo Fischborn - 2018 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 9 (2):381-394.
    In the last few decades, the literature on moral responsibility has been increasingly populated by scientific studies. Studies in neuroscience and psychology, in particular, have been claimed to be relevant for discussions about moral responsibility in a number of ways. And at the same time, there is not yet a systematic understanding of the sort of questions a science of moral responsibility is supposed to answer. This paper is an attempt to move toward such an understanding. I discuss three models (...)
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  • From Freedom From to Freedom To: New Perspectives on Intentional Action.Sofia Bonicalzi & Patrick Haggard - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.
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  • The Idea of Will.M. M. Dorenbosch Drs - unknown
    This article presents a new conceptual view on the conscious will. This new concept approaches our will from the perspective of the requirements of our neural-muscular system and not from our anthropocentric perspective. This approach not only repositions the will at the core of behavior control, it also integrates the studies of Libet and Wegner, which seem to support the opposite. The will does not return as an instrument we use to steer, but rather as part of the way we (...)
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  • Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It.Andrea Lavazza - 2016 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10.
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  • My Brain Made Me Do It: The Exclusion Argument Against Free Will, and What’s Wrong with It.Christian List & Peter Menzies - 2017 - In H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock & H. Price (eds.), Making a Difference. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    We offer a critical assessment of the “exclusion argument” against free will, which may be summarized by the slogan: “My brain made me do it, therefore I couldn't have been free”. While the exclusion argument has received much attention in debates about mental causation (“could my mental states ever cause my actions?”), it is seldom discussed in relation to free will. However, the argument informally underlies many neuroscientific discussions of free will, especially the claim that advances in neuroscience seriously challenge (...)
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  • Is Compatibilism Intuitive?Daniel Lim & Ju Chen - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (6):878-897.
    Eddy Nahmias, with various collaborators, has used experimental data to argue for the claim that folk intuition is generally compatibilist. We try to undermine this claim in two ways. First, we argue that the various formulations of determinism he uses are not conceptually equivalent, jeopardizing the kinds of conclusions that can be drawn from the resulting data. Second, prompted by these conceptual worries we supplement the typical quantitative surveys that dominate the extant literature with short qualitative interviews. This, in turn, (...)
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  • It’s OK If ‘My Brain Made Me Do It’: People’s Intuitions About Free Will and Neuroscientific Prediction.Eddy Nahmias, Jason Shepard & Shane Reuter - 2014 - Cognition 133 (2):502-516.
    In recent years, a number of prominent scientists have argued that free will is an illusion, appealing to evidence demonstrating that information about brain activity can be used to predict behavior before people are aware of having made a decision. These scientists claim that the possibility of perfect prediction based on neural information challenges the ordinary understanding of free will. In this paper we provide evidence suggesting that most people do not view the possibility of neuro-prediction as a threat to (...)
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