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Free Will – Philosophers and Neuroscientists in Conversation - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Free Will: Philosophers and Neuroscientists in Conversation

Uri Maoz and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong


What is free will? Can it exist in a determined universe? How can we determine who, if anyone, possesses it? Philosophers have been debating these questions for millennia. In recent decades neuroscientists have joined the fray with questions of their own. Which neural mechanisms could enable conscious control of action? What are intentional actions? Do contemporary developments in neuroscience rule out free will or, instead, illuminate how it works? Over the past few years, neuroscientists and philosophers have increasingly come to understand that both fields can make substantive contributions ... More

Keywords: free will, voluntary, decision, action, intention, consciousness, determinism, philosophy, responsibility, neuroscience

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2022 Print ISBN-13: 9780197572153
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2022 DOI:10.1093/oso/9780197572153.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Uri Maoz, editor
Assistant Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Psychology, Chapman University

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, editor
Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Duke University

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Part I Questions from Neuroscientists for Philosophers

Part I, Section I Questions about will

2 What is a will?

Pamela Hieronymi

Part I, Section II Questions about freedom

4 What is freedom?

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

5 What is free will?

Timothy O’Connor

7 Does free will come in degrees?

Jonathan Hall and Tillmann Vierkant

Part I, Section III Questions about scientific evidence

Part I, Section IV Questions about consciousness

Part I, Section V Questions about responsibility and reasons-responsiveness

15 What are reasons?

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Part II Questions from Philosophers for Neuroscientists

Part II, Section I Questions about will

16 What are the main stages in the neural processes that produce actions?

Patrick Haggard and Elisabeth Parés-Pujolràs

Part II, Section II Questions about intention

21 What are intentions and intentional actions?

Elisabeth Parés-Pujolràs and Patrick Haggard

Part II, Section III Questions about consciousness

Part II, Section IV Questions about neuroscience methods

28 How can we determine the precise timing of mental events related to action?

Sae Jin Lee, Sook Mun (Alice) Wong, Uri Maoz, and Mark Hallett

30 How can computational models help us understand free will?

Gabriel Kreiman, Hans Liljenström, Aaron Schurger, and Uri Maoz