Free Will and Modern Science

Paperback | January 1, 2012

EditorRichard Swinburne

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Do humans have a free choice of which actions to perform? Three recent developments of modern science can help us to answer this question. First, new investigative tools have enabled us to study the processes in our brains which accompany our decisions. The pioneer work of Benjamin Libet hasled many neuroscientists to hold the view that our conscious intentions do not cause our bodily movements but merely accompany them. Then, Quantum Theory suggests that not all physical events are fully determined by their causes, and so opens the possibility that not all brain events may be fullydetermined by their causes, and so maybe - if neuroscience does not rule this out - there is a role for intentions after all. Finally, a theorem of mathematics, Godel's theory, has been interpreted to suggest that the initial conditions and laws of development of a mathematician's brain could notfully determine which mathematical conjectures he sees to be true. Papers by Patrick Haggard, Tim Bayne, Harald Atmanspacher and Stefan Rotter, Solomon Feferman, and John Lucas investigate these issues.The extent to which human behaviour is determined by brain events may well depend on whether conscious events, such as intentions, are themselves merely brain events, or whether they are separate events which interact with brain events (perhaps in the radical form that intentions are events in oursoul, and not in our body). The papers of Frank Jackson, Richard Swinburne, and Howard Robinson investigate these issues. The remaining papers, of Galen Strawson, Helen Steward, and R.A. Duff, consider what kind of free will we need in order to be morally responsible for our actions or to be held guilty in a court of law. Is it sufficient merely that our actions are uncaused by brain events, or what?

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Do humans have a free choice of which actions to perform? Three recent developments of modern science can help us to answer this question. First, new investigative tools have enabled us to study the processes in our brains which accompany our decisions. The pioneer work of Benjamin Libet hasled many neuroscientists to hold the view tha...

Richard Swinburne is Emeritus Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of the Christian Religion at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:260 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.49 inPublished:January 1, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0197264891

ISBN - 13:9780197264898

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Table of Contents

Peter Simons: ForewordRichard Swinburne: Introduction1. Patrick Haggard: Does Brain Science Change our View of Free Will?2. Tim Bayne: Free Will and the Sciences of Human Agency3. Richard Swinburne: Physicalism and the Determination of Action4. Richard Swinburne: Dualism and the Determination of Action5. Harald Atmanspacher and Stefan Rotter: Determinacy or its Absence in the Brain6. Solomon Feferman: Godel's incompleteness theorems, free will, and mathematical thought7. John Lucas: Response to Feferman8. Galen Strawson: The Impossibility of Ultimate Moral Responsibility?9. Helen Steward: Moral Responsibility and the Concept of Agency10. Howard Robinson: Substance Dualism and its Rationale11. R.A. Duff: What Kind of Responsibility must Criminal Law Presuppose?