Dissertation, Universidade de Caxias Do Sul (2014)
This dissertation aims to examine whether John Searle’s biological naturalism is a more viable alternative to current physicalist and functionalist positions in dealing with the issue of free will. Thus, my strategy is to identify the assumptions of these lines of thought and their philosophical consequences. In order to accomplish this goal the concept of intrinsic intentionality is taken as a guide. I begin by defining what is meant by free will and go on to broadly characterize physicalist and functionalist positions in philosophy of mind. Then, I go on to show how the question of free will arises and can be crucial to such currents of thought. Subsequently, I summarize the biological naturalist position (especially regarding the ontology of consciousness and the question of intentionality) and oppose it to physicalism and functionalism in order to examine the possibility of free will. In this opposition, each theory is decomposed into its main tenets so that they can be critically analyzed. In this analysis, it appears that free will does not seem to find any room in the scenario presented by physicalism and functionalism. It is argued that Searlean biological naturalism is able to explain – better than the other two positions – how free action can be motivated by something that is external to the mental state which is itself performing the action. I then evaluate the ethical implications of these findings, articulating the issues of intrinsic intentionality, free will, strong artificial intelligence in order to conclude that current machines cannot be assigned moral responsibility, since they are not capable of intrinsic intentionality. Then, I argue for the evolutionary origin of intentionality and therefore morality. Finally, I argue that neuroscience does not eliminate moral responsibility since it does not prove that free will is an illusion, i.e., that this branch of science does not contradict John Searle’s biological naturalism.