Free : Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 112 pages
  • 137.16 x 180.34 x 22.86mm | 136.08g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0199371628
  • 9780199371624
  • 266,916

Table of contents

Preface ; 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 ; References
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Review quote

Whether readers agree with [the] conclusion, they will in any event be stimulated by the arguments in this lucid and accessible book. * David Lorimer Network Review * As director of the Big Questions on Free Will project and author of many books on the topic, Al Mele has been at the forefront of contemporary philosophers exploring the implications of recent research in neuroscience and psychology for philosophical debates about free will. In Free, he surveys the key results of these explorations in an accessible book that will engage students and non-specialists, while at the same time providing a useful overview of the
issues for specialists as well. New research in neuroscience and psychology forces us to refine our thinking about free will. But Mele makes a strong case that this research does not undermine all modern views about it, and he does so in straightforward, understandable discussions of the research and its
implications in this short, informative book. * Robert Kane, University of Texas at Austin * Mele provides a devastating critique of the typical grounds for skepticism about free will that arise from work in neuroscience and psychology. Even better, Mele's discussion is straightforward and accessible to non-specialists and specialists alike. It is the first thing anyone should read to get a sense of the state of play on the relevance of science to questions of free will. * Manuel Vargas, University of San Francisco * Alfred Mele's beautifully written and easily accessible book is a perfect tonic to the many recent claims by scientists that there is no such thing as free will. Mele has written a book for everyone, including specialists in the sciences and in philosophy, as well as a much wider audience. Indeed, any thoughtful layperson will profit from reading this book, learning first why a range of scientific studies are taken to prove that no one has free will, and then why
these studies actually fail to do so. Free is interdisciplinary inquiry at its finest. Mele truly shows how contemporary philosophy and the sciences can learn from one another, and why doing so is so very enriching. * Michael McKenna, University of Arizona * ... his book is a model of accessible philosophical argument. * New Statesman * Short and businesslike... a model of accessible philosophical argument * New Statesman, Rowan Williams * Both serious and fun * Theology, Robin Gill * A must read for all who are concerned with free will. * Prabuddha Bharata *
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About Alfred R. Mele

Alfred R. Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of eight previous Oxford books, including Free Will and Luck (2006), Effective Intentions (2009), Backsliding (2012), and A Dialogue on Free Will and Science (2013). He also is the editor or co-editor of five OUP books, including The Philosophy of Action (1997) and Free
Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? (2010).
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94 ratings
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