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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Static and dynamic metaphysics of free will: A pragmatic perspective

By Eric Racine
The Neuroethics Blog
Originally posted January 14, 2014

In the public eye, one of the most striking types of findings neuroscience research claims to unravel concerns how decisions are made and whether these decisions are made “freely”. Unpacking the relationship between what is meant by “freely” and other neighboring notions such as “voluntarily”, “informed”, “conscious”, “undetermined”, “uncoerced”, “autonomous”, “controlled”, “uncaused”, etc., is a matter of serious philosophical debate. Much research, either purely philosophical, neuroscientific, or a mixture of the two in nature, has attempted to tease out the mysteries of free will. In spite of being seemingly committed to addressing these questions scientifically, much of the neuroscientific literature clearly holds presuppositions about the nature of free will that stunts its exploratory power. By this, we mean that many neuroscientific experiments surrounding free will have clung to a static metaphysical notion of its existence and it is only recently that a more dynamic view has emerged. The contrast between these two metaphysical beliefs is the focus of our blog post.

The entire blog post is here.