[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing
scerir at libero.it
Wed Apr 4 16:25:59 UTC 2007
[I have the pdf of this paper, if somebody is interested]
Behav.Sci. Law. Feb 23, 2007
'The concept of free will:
philosophy, neuroscience and the law.'
Various philosophical definitions of free will are first considered.
The compatibilist definition, which says simply that acts are freely willed
if they are not subject to constraints, is identified as much used in the
legal system and essentially impervious to scientific investigation. A
middle-ground "incompatibilist" definition, which requires that freely
willed acts be consciously initiated, is shown to be relevant to the idea
of mens rea and in the author's view not actually incompatible in principle
with a fully scientific worldview. Only the strong libertarian definition,
which requires that freely willed acts have no physical antecedents
whatsoever, makes the existence of free will very hard to swallow
scientifically. However, with regard to the middle-ground "incompatibilist"
definition, three different lines of scientific experimental evidence are
then described, which suggest that, in fact, consciousness is not the real
cause of much of what is generally considered as voluntary behavior. Many
voluntary actions are initiated preconsciously, with consciousness kept
informed only after the neural events leading to the act have begun. It is
suggested that a reasonable way of integrating these experimental findings
with the idea that persons do have a somewhat more than compatibilist
version of free will is to acknowledge explicitly that a person is a
mixture of conscious and unconscious components. In this scenario, the mind
in mens rea would have to be judged guilty if it contained either conscious
or unconscious intentions to perform the guilty act.
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