Description : The issues of mental causation, consciousness, and free will have vexed philosopherssince Plato. In this book, Peter Tse examines these unresolved issues from a neuroscientificperspective. In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mentalcausation or consciousness can exist given unproven first assumptions, Tse proposes that we insteadlisten to what neurons have to say. Because the brain must already embody a solution to themind--body problem, why not focus on how the brain actually realizes mental causation? Tse draws on exciting recent neuroscientific data concerning how informationalcausation is realized in physical causation at the level of NMDA receptors, synapses, dendrites,neurons, and neuronal circuits. He argues that a particular kind of strong free will and "downward"mental causation are realized in rapid synaptic plasticity. Recent neurophysiological breakthroughsreveal that neurons function as criterial assessors of their inputs, which then change the criteriathat will make other neurons fire in the future. Such informational causation cannot change thephysical basis of information realized in the present, but it can change the physical basis ofinformation that may be realized in the immediate future. This gets around the standard argumentagainst free will centered on the impossibility of self-causation. Tse explores the ways that mentalcausation and qualia might be realized in this kind of neuronal and associatedinformation-processing architecture, and considers the psychological and philosophical implicationsof having such an architecture realized in our brains.
Description : In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mental causation or consciousness can exist given unproven first assumptions, Peter Ulric Tse proposes that we instead listen to what neurons have to say. In this BIT, Tse examines the role of physical/informational criteria in the neuronal model of mental causation and free will.
Description : Questions concerning free will are intertwined with issues in almost every area of philosophy, from metaphysics to philosophy of mind to moral philosophy, and are also informed by work in different areas of science (principally physics, neuroscience and social psychology). Free will is also a perennial concern of serious thinkers in theology and in non-western traditions. Because free will can be approached from so many different perspectives and has implications for so many debates, a comprehensive survey needs to encompass an enormous range of approaches. This book is the first to draw together leading experts on every aspect of free will, from those who are central to the current philosophical debates, to non-western perspectives, to scientific contributions and to those who know the rich history of the subject. Its 61 chapters, commissioned especially for this volume from the world’s leading researchers, are framed by a General Introduction and briefer introductions for each of the six sections. A list of References, an annotated Suggested Reading list, and a short list of Related Topics are included at the end of each chapter.
Description : How is free will possible in the light of the physical and chemical underpinnings of brain activity and recent neurobiological experiments? How can the emergence of complexity in hierarchical systems such as the brain, based at the lower levels in physical interactions, lead to something like genuine free will? The nature of our understanding of free will in the light of present-day neuroscience is becoming increasingly important because of remarkable discoveries on the topic being made by neuroscientists at the present time, on the one hand, and its crucial importance for the way we view ourselves as human beings, on the other. A key tool in understanding how free will may arise in this context is the idea of downward causation in complex systems, happening coterminously with bottom up causation, to form an integral whole. Top-down causation is usually neglected, and is therefore emphasized in the other part of the book’s title. The concept is explored in depth, as are the ethical and legal implications of our understanding of free will. This book arises out of a workshop held in California in April of 2007, which was chaired by Dr. Christof Koch. It was unusual in terms of the breadth of people involved: they included physicists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and theologians. This enabled the meeting, and hence the resulting book, to attain a rather broader perspective on the issue than is often attained at academic symposia. The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, Nancey Murphy, William Newsome, Timothy O’Connor, Sean A.. Spence, and Evan Thompson.
Description : We all seem to think that we do the acts we do because we consciously choose to do them. This commonsense view is thrown into dispute by Benjamin Libet's eyebrow-raising experiments, which seem to suggest that conscious will occurs not before but after the start of brain activity that produces physical action. Libet's striking results are often claimed to undermine traditional views of free will and moral responsibility and to have practical implications for criminal justice. His work has also stimulated a flurry of further fascinating scientific research--including findings in psychology by Dan Wegner and in neuroscience by John-Dylan Haynes--that raises novel questions about whether conscious will plays any causal role in action. Critics respond that both commonsense views of action and traditional theories of moral and legal responsibility, as well as free will, can survive the scientific onslaught of Libet and his progeny. To further this lively debate, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel have brought together prominent experts in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and law to discuss whether our conscious choices really cause our actions, and what the answers to that question mean for how we view ourselves and how we should treat each other.
Description : If free-will beliefs support attributions of moral responsibility, then reducing these beliefs should make people less retributive in their attitudes about punishment. Four studies tested this prediction using both measured and manipulated free-will beliefs. Study 1 found that people with weaker free-will beliefs endorsed less retributive, but not consequentialist, attitudes regarding punishment of criminals. Subsequent studies showed that learning about the neural bases of human behavior, through either lab-based manipulations or attendance at an undergraduate neuroscience course, reduced people's support for retributive punishment (Studies 2–4). These results illustrate that exposure to debates about free will and to scientific research on the neural basis of behavior may have consequences for attributions of moral responsibility.
Description : In recent years, philosophical discussions of free will have focused largely on whether or not free will is compatible with determinism. 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. In particular, they give us the capacity to respond appositely to feature-rich gestalts of conscious experiences, in ways that are not wholly determined by laws of nature or computational rules. The author contends that this approach is consistent with what science tells us about the world; and he considers its implications for our responsibility for our own conduct, for the role of retribution in criminal punishment, and for the place of human beings in the wider scheme of things. Praise for David Hodgson's previous work, The Mind Matters "magisterial...It is balanced, extraordinarily thorough and scrupulously fair-minded; and it is written in clear, straightforward, accessible prose." --Michael Lockwood, Times Literary Supplement "an excellent contribution to the literature. It is well written, authoritative, and wonderfully wide-ranging. ... This account of quantum theory ... will surely be of great value. ... On the front cover of the paper edition of this book Paul Davies is quoted as saying that this is "a truly splendid and provocative book". In writing this review I have allowed myself to be provoked, but I am happy to close by giving my endorsement to this verdict in its entirety!" --Euan Squires, Journal of Consciousness Studies "well argued and extremely important book." --Sheena Meredith, New Scientist "His reconstructions and explanations are always concise and clear." --Jeffrey A Barrett, The Philosophical Review "In this large-scale and ambitious work Hodgson attacks a modern orthodoxy. Both its proponents and its opponents will find it compelling reading." --J. R. Lucas, Merton College, Oxford
Description : This book is a discussion of the most timely and contentious issues in the two branches of neuroethics: the neuroscience of ethics; and the ethics of neuroscience. Drawing upon recent work in psychiatry, neurology, and neurosurgery, it develops a phenomenologically inspired theory of neuroscience to explain the brain-mind relation. The idea that the mind is shaped not just by the brain but also by the body and how the human subject interacts with the environment has significant implications for free will, moral responsibility, and moral justification of actions. It also provides a better understanding of how different interventions in the brain can benefit or harm us. In addition, the book discusses brain imaging techniques to diagnose altered states of consciousness, deep-brain stimulation to treat neuropsychiatric disorders, and restorative neurosurgery for neurodegenerative diseases. It examines the medical and ethical trade-offs of these interventions in the brain when they produce both positive and negative physical and psychological effects, and how these trade-offs shape decisions by physicians and patients about whether to provide and undergo them.