Description : Anyone who claims the right ‘to choose how to live their life’ excludes any purely deterministic description of their brain in terms of genes, chemicals or environmental influences. For example, when an author of a text expresses his thoughts, he assumes that, in typing the text, he governs the firing of the neurons in his brain and the movement of his fingers through the exercise of his own free will: what he writes is not completely pre-determined at the beginning of the universe. Yet in the field of neuroscience today, determinism dominates. There is a conflict between the daily life conviction that a human being has free will, and deterministic neuroscience. When faced with this conflict two alternative positions are possible: Either human freedom is an illusion, or deterministic neuroscience is not the last word on the brain and will eventually be superseded by a neuroscience that admits processes not completely determined by the past. This book investigates whether it is possible to have a science in which there is room for human freedom. The book generally concludes that the world and the brain are governed to some extent by non-material agencies, and limited consciousness does not abolish free will and responsibility. The authors present perspectives coming from different disciplines (Neuroscience, Quantumphysics and Philosophy) and range from those focusing on the scientific background, to those highlighting rather more a philosophical analysis. However, all chapters share a common characteristic: they take current scientific observations and data as a basis from which to draw philosophical implications. It is these features that make this volume unique, an exceptional interdisciplinary approach combining scientific strength and philosophical profundity. We are convinced that it will strongly stimulate the debate and contribute to new insights in the mind-brain relationship.
Description : The question of whether humans are free to make their own decisions has long been debated and it continues to be a controversial topic today. In Free Will: The Basics readers are provided with a clear and accessible introduction to this central but challenging philosophical problem. The questions which are discussed include: Does free will exist? Or is it illusory? Can we be free even if everything is determined by a chain of causes? If our actions are not determined, does this mean they are just random or a matter of luck? In order to have the kind of freedom required for moral responsibility, must we have alternatives? What can recent developments in science tell us about the existence of free will? Because these questions are discussed without prejudicing one view over others and all technical terminology is clearly explained, this book is an ideal introduction to free will for the uninitiated.
Description : A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion. In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life.
Description : The problem of free will is one of the great perennial issues of philosophy and has been discussed and debated over many centuries. The issues that arise in this sphere cover both metaphysics and morals and concern matters of central importance not only for philosophy but also for law, theology, psychology and the social sciences. What is at stake here is nothing less than our self-image as responsible moral agents who are in control of our own destiny and fate. The investigations and findings of modern science are judged by many to put skeptical pressure on this self-image and may challenge its credibility. During the past few decades the free will controversy has developed and evolved in exciting and significant ways. All the major parties involved in this debate have had to revise and amend their core positions with a view to responding to the sophisticated and searching arguments put forward by their critics and opponents. The papers collected in this volume represent the most essential and indispensable contributions to the contemporary debate. The specific topics covered include: moral luck, skepticism and naturalism, the consequence argument, alternate possibilities, libertarian metaphysics, compatibilism and reason-responsive theories, illusionism and revisionism, optimism and pessimism, and the phenomenology of agency, as well as contributions relating to neuroscience and experimental philosophy. The collection is arranged in a way that presents the topics covered in a structured and organized manner. The general aim is to provide an effective guide for students and readers who are new to the field, as well as a useful collection for those who are already familiar with the topics and contributions. The contributors include many of the leading and most distinguished figures in the field, along with a number of younger scholars who have already had an impact and produced significant work.
Description : The prevailing orthodoxy in brain science is that since physical laws govern our physical brains, physical laws therefore govern our behaviour and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a 'determined' world. Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga as he explains how the mind, 'constrains' the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called 'his trademark wit and lack of pretension,' Gazzaniga ranges across neuroscience, psychology and ethics to show how incorrect it is to blame our brains for our behaviour. Even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, he explains, we are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains. An extraordinary book, combining a light touch with profound implications, Who's in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.
Description : A guide to current work on free will and related subjects, the focus is on writings of the past 40 years, in which there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional issues about the freedom of the will in the light of new developments in the sciences, philosophy and humanistic studies.
Description : In this challenging book, David Hodgson takes a fresh approach to the question of free will, contending that close consideration of human rationality and human consciousness shows that together they give us free will, in a robust and indeterministic sense, and in a way that is consistent with what science tells us about the world.
Description : A Dialogue on Free Will and Science is a brief and intriguing book discussing the scientific challenges of free will. Presented through a dialogue, the format allows ideas to emerge and be clarified and then evaluated in a natural way. Engaging and accessible, it offers students a compelling look at free will and science.
Description : What is it to be human? How do we relate to the world, to each other and to our self in a human - in everyday life and when faced with life's big questions? In this book, the author develops a general theoretical model that might be able to offer a better understanding of the human condition and of the underlying principles of human behavior. The author shows that general psychology, bridging the natural sciences and the social sciences, can make a significant contribution to a general anthropology.
Description : This book presents the current views of leading physicists on the bizarre property of quantum theory: nonlocality. Einstein viewed this theory as “spooky action at a distance” which, together with randomness, resulted in him being unable to accept quantum theory. The contributions in the book describe, in detail, the bizarre aspects of nonlocality, such as Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen steering and quantum teleportation—a phenomenon which cannot be explained in the framework of classical physics, due its foundations in quantum entanglement. The contributions describe the role of nonlocality in the rapidly developing field of quantum information. Nonlocal quantum effects in various systems, from solid-state quantum devices to organic molecules in proteins, are discussed. The most surprising papers in this book challenge the concept of the nonlocality of Nature, and look for possible modifications, extensions, and new formulations—from retrocausality to novel types of multiple-world theories. These attempts have not yet been fully successful, but they provide hope for modifying quantum theory according to Einstein’s vision.