2004
Volume 111, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-5275
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1244

Abstract

Abstract

Currently, few neuroscientists and philosophers still defend the claim that neuroscience has shown the brain ‘decides’ what we do and that free will is an illusion. This does not imply, however, that this kind of neuroscientific research say anything about the existence of free will. Neuroscience can offer insights in the unconscious causes and underlying processes of our actions and, because of this, could perhaps show whether we act out of free will or not. In this paper I will argue that in this regard the possibilities of neuroscientific research are limited. I understand free will, in line with Dana Nelkin and Susan Wolf, as the ability to do the right thing for the right reasons. I will show that whether someone acts intentionally, what it is that she is doing, and for which reasons she acts cannot be determined by studying unconscious causes or other unconscious processes related to the action. The action and reason necessarily depend on the perspective of the acting agent. Furthermore, neuroscientific research cannot show us whether the reasons and the actions are . It could perhaps offer a unique contribution when it comes to the question of whether we are to the right thing for the right reasons. To what extent it can remains an open question.

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2019-10-01
2021-09-23
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): consciousness; free will; intentional action; neuroscience; reasons; unconscious
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