The free will “question” is sometimes raised in comments on this blog. I am not someone who denies “free will” but recognise that people often define the concept differently – and this can be a cause of the debate.
Dr Ginger Campbell presents a very interesting discussion of the topic in her recent Brain Science Podcast reviewing the book Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will.
From her summary:
“This book challenges the widespread fear that neuroscience is revealing an explanation of the human mind that concludes that moral responsibility and free will are illusions created by our brains. Instead the authors argue that the problem is the assumption that a physicalist/materialistic model of the mind must also be reductionist (a viewpoint that all causes are bottom-up). In this podcast I discuss their arguments against causal reductionism and for a dynamic systems model. We also discuss why we need to avoid brain-body dualism and recognize that our mind is more than just what our brain does. The key to preserving our intuitive sense of our selves as free agents capable of reason, moral responsibility, and free will is that the dynamic systems approach allows top-down causation, without resorting to any supernatural causes or breaking any of the know laws of the physical universe. This is a complex topic, but I present a concise overview of the book’s key ideas.”
I found the discussion fascinating and will try to get my local library to purchase the book. Unfortunately, it’s quite expensive so they may balk at this.
The Brain Science Podcasts are always interesting and intellectually stimulating. This is no exception and I recommend it to anyone interested in the questions of brain science, free will and moral responsibility.