Rationality + Consciousness = Free Will

Hardcover | January 18, 2012

byDavid Hodgson

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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 andhuman 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.

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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 andhuman consciousness shows that together they g...

David Hodgson recently retired as a Judge of Appeal of the New South Wales Supreme Court, after a long legal career. During that career, he maintained a keen interest and involvement in philosophy. He has published two previous philosophical books through Oxford University Press, namely Consequences of Utilitarianism and The Mind Ma...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:January 18, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199845301

ISBN - 13:9780199845309

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Table of Contents

IntroductionThe problem of free will and responsibilityCompatibilismHaldane's argumentHow I will proceed1. Foundational BeliefsCan I be certain that I exist?The need for languageExperiences and the external worldFoundational beliefs2. Truth and RationalityTruthRelativity of truth?RationalityFallacies and biasesStich's argumentA legal exampleCore assertions about truth and rationality3. Plausible ReasoningFormal and informal reasoningInductionBayes' theoremIllustration of Bayes' theoremLevels of cognitive processesCore assertions about plausible reasoning4. Consciousness and Decision-makingDual aspectsCharacteristic features of conscious experiencesSubjectivityQualia and unityNeural correlates of consciousnessThe efficacy of conscious experiencesThree questionsRule-determined processes do not need consciousnessCore assertions about consciousness and decision-making5. Gestalts and RulesThe argument outlinedLaws and rulesThe Game of Life and computationTricks of consciousnessSome further thoughtsCore assertions about gestalts and rules6. How Gestalts Promote RationalityEvolutionary originsAesthetic judgmentsPlausible reasoningConclusionCore assertions about how gestalts promote rationality7. Science and DeterminismA lawful universeQuantum mechanicsThe free will theoremExplanation of the theoremImplicationsTime and the block universeCore assertions about science and determinism8. Neuroscience and Conscious ChoiceScience and the brainA general pictureThe Cartesian theatreThe scale and nature of quantum effectsLibet, Gazzaniga and WegnerCore assertions about neuroscience and conscious choice9. Indeterministic Free WillWill and responsibilityComparison with KaneAgent-causationCompatibilismAssessment of compatibilismDoes luck swallow everything?More about luckCore assertions about indeterministic free will10. Value JudgmentsA different philosophical approachNatural imperativesAbsolute imperativesPrima facie imperativesNo reasonable irreconcilable differencesWhy be moral?Good, evil and beautyCommunity practices and lawsLegal systemsCapacity for reasonable value judgmentsCore assertions about value judgments11. Responsibility and RetributionResponses to wrong conductOverviewAustralian criminal lawRetribution as a restriction on State compulsionWhy retribution should be maintainedPhilosophical bases for retributionThe future of retributionCore assertions about responsibility and retribution12. The Big PictureThe scientific accountAn experienced universeConstraint, empowerment and guidanceReligious belief: a subject for rational enquiryA value-embedded universeWhere do we come from?Where are we going?Can more specific beliefs be supported?Potential for evil and goodCore assertions about the big pictureAppendix A: Why Bayes' Theorem WorksAppendix B: Against Fundamentalism: Biblical MoralityAbraham and IsaacThe PassoverThe Promised LandThe New TestamentReferences

Editorial Reviews

"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