Free : why science hasn't disproved free will / Alfred R. Mele.

Mele, Alfred R., 1951- author.
New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2014]
x, 99 pages ; 19 cm

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Free will and determinism.
"Does free will exist? The question has fueled heated debates spanning from philosophy to psychology and religion. The answer has major implications, and the stakes are high. To put it in the simple terms that have come to dominate these debates, if we are free to make our own decisions, we are accountable for what we do, and if we aren't free, we're off the hook. There are neuroscientists who claim that our decisions are made unconsciously and are therefore outside of our control and social psychologists who argue that myriad imperceptible factors influence even our minor decisions to the extent that there is no room for free will. According to philosopher Alfred R. Mele, what they point to as hard and fast evidence that free will cannot exist actually leaves much room for doubt. If we look more closely at the major experiments that free will deniers cite, we can see large gaps where the light of possibility shines through. In Free: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will, Mele lays out his opponents' experiments simply and clearly, and proceeds to debunk their supposed findings, one by one, explaining how the experiments don't provide the solid evidence for which they have been touted. There is powerful evidence that conscious decisions play an important role in our lives, and knowledge about situational influences can allow people to respond to those influences rationally rather than with blind obedience. Mele also explores the meaning and ramifications of free will. What, exactly, does it mean to have free will -- is it a state of our soul, or an undefinable openness to alternative decisions? Is it something natural and practical that is closely tied to moral responsibility? Since evidence suggests that denying the existence of free will actually encourages bad behavior, we have a duty to give it a fair chance"-- Provided by publisher.
"Scientists have forged a penetrating, coherent course in the study of human thought and action. Yet some of the same scientists have slashed out an adjacent, rough-hewn path, cutting at the roots of the belief in free will and at the groundwork of relationships among the conscious will, the mind, and the brain. Claiming to disprove the existence of free will is not only wrongheaded, Mele argues, but harmful; research shows that people who don't believe they are free are more likely to behave badly, as they sink into feeling like they aren't responsible for their actions. Putting a positive spin on this, Mele conveys what he calls the 'good news' that we are freer than we think. If we see ourselves as morally responsible for our future actions, we can begin to view ourselves as having abilities and capacities that give us considerable control over what we do. Mele takes apart the findings of neuroscience and psychology experiments often cited as irrefutably disproving the existence of free will, for example those of Benjamin Libet, and demonstrates that their results have been misinterpreted. Mele explains why the experimental findings are actually consistent with our making many of our decisions consciously and with our having considerable control over many of our decisions and actions. In order to find truth and clarity on this crucial topic, Mele argues, philosophers, scientists, and psychologists alike need to explore one another's work rather than relying on scientific findings - and a rigid interpretation of those findings- as the only key to solving the complex puzzle that is free will"-- Provided by publisher.
Machine generated contents note:
1. Decisions, Decisions
2. Benjamin Libet: If Not Now, When?
3. Is Free Will Adrift in New-Wave Neuroscience?
4. Good Intentions
5. Tough Situations
6. Free Will, Fruit Flies, and Evidence
Includes bibliographical references and index.
9780199371624 (hardback)
0199371628 (hardback)