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 : Making a Scientific Case for Conscious Agency and Free Will makes a series of arguments that certain human behaviors are impossible to explain in the absence of free will, and that free will emerges from materialistic processes of brain function. It outlines future directions for neuroscience studies that can harness emerging technologies and tools for systems-level analysis. All humans have the sensation that they consciously will certain things to happen and that, in the absence of external constraints, they are free to choose from among alternatives. This notion of free will is deemed obvious by the average person based on common experience. Free will is frequently defended with arguments stemming from social, legal, philosophical, and religious perspectives. But these arguments appeal to consequences—not causes—of choices and decisions. In the past 3 decades, debate has raged within the scientific community over whether free will is in fact an illusion. Because free will would require conscious agency, the supporting corollary is that consciousness itself cannot do anything and is merely an observer rather than an actor. Considers arguments for and against free will from religious, social, legal, and neuroscience perspectives Provides thorough coverage of the manifold human behaviors that can be explained only by free will, from consciousness to creativity Outlines future directions for further neuroscience research into the topic
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 : 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 : 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