Tuesday, April 14

Free Will and the Philosophy of Science

Brain Blogger: http://brainblogger.com/2009/04/14/free-will-and-the-philosophy-of-science/

Neurological research is being used to determine whether free will is just an idea created by humans to feel in control or can scientifically be proven. Some researchers have found results that they believe don’t make the idea of free will probable. However, these results can be interpreted differently. According to this blog there are a few philosophical assumptions that were alternately made, by other researchers, when it comes to deciding whether free will is in fact able to be determined; materialism, naturalism, determinism, etc. Science is founded on these philosophical assumptions. Because determinism is assumed by materialism, these scientists are trying to determine something that is not cannot exist based on these assumptions. This explains why free will is interpreted to not be plausible. So a question I pose is do you think that free will does exist? Or is it a phenomenon of science? Or just an idea that we as humans try to hold on to in order to feel in control of our own lives? What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Free will is a fascinating subject. Shameless plug: it'll be a big topic in my upcoming online Philosophy in Film class. More general challenges to it often point out that if the world turns out to be governed by deterministic laws, then my actions (which I ordinarily regard as free) were in fact fixed by conditions that took place long before my birth. If that's so, then I apparently can't decide other than I actually decide. How then could I be free? People who think that determinism is incompatible with free will are creatively called "Incompatibilists". There's a clip on this from the otherwise horrible movie "Waking Life" on this here (with a cartoony version of the philosopher David Sosa).

    Some think that such considerations are decisive. Others ("Compatibilists") think that free will can coexist with determinism. This often involves careful investigation into the meaning of "free". There's a (somewhat involved) entry on Compatibilism in the Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy here.

    I confess that I'm utterly puzzled by this paragraph (in particular) in the post you cite Lauren:

    "This should lead us to being more skeptical about opinions and even philosophy. If you make a subversive list of the outcomes of philosophy for philosophers, you get tenure, getting published, getting laid, feeling important, and getting other people to scratch their chins and nod wisely. Isn’t it fair to ask if those outcomes are more powerful shapers of philosophers’ behavior than the logic they consciously experience themselves following? Certainly the Sokal Affair (the hoax that physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated in 1996 on Duke University’s postmodern journal Social Text) gives the hypothesis legs."

    Perhaps it's fair to ask (heck, what ISN'T fair to ask), but if the suggestion is that the arguments philosophers (and anyone else who employs logic to argue) employ are really expressions of neurological twitches (and thus not to be trusted), I need to see the argument. Oh wait! I guess the person who advocates this line won't be able to give me one! D'oh!


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