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Summary Free will is partially an issue in the philosophy of mind, so growing knowledge of the brain - which obviously has some kind of intimate relationship with the mind - might prove relevant to our understanding of free will. Most of the interest in neuroscience by philosophers and scientists has concerned whether neuroscience might show that free will is an illusion; the focus has especially been on whether conscious intentions are epiphenomenal. Neuroscientist might also illuminate how the powers required for free will - rational reflection and decision-making, centrally - are implemented.
Key works Benjamin Libet's [Libet 1999 ] claims about the timing of conscious states has been a central focus of work on this topic. This work has spawned a mini-industry; landmarks here include the papers collected in Libet et al 2010 and - especially - Mele 2009, a monograph that carefully sets out the limits ofLibet's claims. Some neuroscientists have argued that neuroscience eliminates responsibility because the brain is deterministic; Balaguer 2010 is a book-length examination of this claim.
Introductions Banks & Pockett 2007;Mele 2011
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  1. George J. Agich (2004). Seeking the Everyday Meaning of Autonomy in Neurologic Disorders. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 11 (4):295-298.
  2. Rosemary Agonito (1975). Neurological Information Processing and Free Persons. Southern Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):3-11.
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  3. Roksana Alavi (2005). Robert Kane, Free Will, and Neuro-Indeterminism. Philo 8 (2):95-108.
    In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
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  4. Roksana Alavi (2005). Robert Kane, Free Will and Neuro-Indeterminism. Philo 8 (2):95-108.
    In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
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  5. Joel Anderson (2007). Introduction: Free Will, Neuroscience, and the Participant Perspective. Philosophical Explorations 10 (1):3 – 11.
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  6. Kristin Andrews (2003). Walter's Neurophilosophy of Free Will: A Review. Philo 6:166.
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  7. Kristin Andrews (2003). Neurophilosophy of Free Will: From Libertarian Illusions to a Concept of Natural Autonomy by Henrik Walter. Philo 6 (1):166-175.
  8. Kristin Andrews (2003). Neurophilosophy of Free Will by Henrik Walter. Philo 6 (1):166-175.
  9. Nomy Arpaly (forthcoming). Consciousness and Moral Responsibility, by Neil Levy. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-3.
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  10. Harald Atmanspacher & Stefan Rotter (2011). On Determinacy or its Absence in the Brain. In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Free Will and Modern Science. OUP/British Academy
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  11. Mark Balaguer (2014). Free Will. MIT.
    A philosopher considers whether the scientific and philosophical arguments against free will are reason enough to give up our belief in it.
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  12. Mark Balaguer (2010). Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem. MIT Press.
    In this largely antimetaphysical treatment of free will and determinism, Mark Balaguer argues that the philosophical problem of free will boils down to an open ...
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  13. William P. Banks & Eve A. Isham (2009). We Infer Rather Than Perceive the Moment We Decided to Act. Psychological Science 20 (1):17.
    A seminal experiment found that the reported time of a decision to perform a simple action was at least 300 ms after the onset of brain activity that normally preceded the action. In Experiment 1, we presented deceptive feedback (an auditory beep) 5 to 60 ms after the action to signify a movement time later than the actual movement. The reported time of decision moved forward in time linearly with the delay in feedback, and came after the muscular initiation of (...)
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  14. William P. Banks & Susan Pockett (2007). Benjamin Libet's Work on the Neuroscience of Free Will. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell 657--670.
  15. Alexander Batthyany (2009). Mental Causation and Free Will After Libet and Soon: Reclaiming Conscious Agency. In Alexander Batthyany & Avshalom Elitzur (eds.), Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Winter
    There are numerous theoretical reasons which are usually said to undermine the case for mental causation. But in recent years, Libet‘s experiment on readiness potentials (Libet, Wright, and Gleason 1982; Libet, Gleason, Wright, and Pearl 1983), and a more recent replication by a research team led by John Dylan Haynes (Soon, C.S., Brass, M., Heinze, H.J., and Haynes, J.-D. [2008]) are often singled out because they appear to demonstrate empirically that consciousness is not causally involved in our choices and actions. (...)
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  16. Alexander Batthyany & Avshalom C. Elitzur (eds.) (2009). Irreducibly Conscious. Selected Papers on Consciousness. Winter.
  17. Roy F. Baumeister, Alfred R. Mele & Kathleen D. Vohs (eds.) (2010). Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? University Press.
    This volume is aimed at readers who wish to move beyond debates about the existence of free will and the efficacy of consciousness and closer to appreciating ...
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  18. Tim Bayne (2011). Libet and the Case for Free Will Scepticism. In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Free Will and Modern Science. OUP/British Academy
    Free will sceptics claim that we do not possess free will—or at least, that we do not possess nearly as much free will as we think we do. Some free will sceptics hold that the very notion of free will is incoherent, and that no being could possibly possess free will (Strawson this volume). Others allow that the notion of free will is coherent, but hold that features of our cognitive architecture prevent us from possessing free will. My concern in (...)
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  19. Timothy M. Beardsley, W. Ronald Heyer, John C. Pugh, Paul D. Thacker, Robert E. Gropp & Lawrence E. Licht (2003). 1. Seeing the (UV) Light Seeing the (UV) Light (P. 539) Free Content. BioScience 53 (6).
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  20. Helen Beebee (2012). Free Will Sans Metaphysics? Metascience 21 (1):77-81.
    Free will sans metaphysics? Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-5 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9525-5 Authors Helen Beebee, Department of Philosophy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
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  21. Hanoch Ben-Yami (2014). Voluntary Action and Neural Causation. Cognitive Neuroscience 5:217-218.
    I agree with Nachev and Hacker’s general approach. However, their criticism of claims of covert automaticity can be strengthened. I first say a few words on what voluntary action involves and on the consequent limited relevance of brain research for the determination of voluntariness. I then turn to Nachev and Hacker’s discussion of possible covert automaticity and show why the case for it is weaker than they allow.
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  22. Dennis Bielfeldt (2009). Freedom and Neurobiology: Reflections on Free Will, Language, and Political Power. By John R. Searle. Zygon 44 (4):999-1002.
  23. Gunnar Björnsson & Derk Pereboom (2014). Free Will Skepticism and Bypassing. In Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (ed.), Moral Psychology, Vol. 4. MIT Press 27–35.
    Discusses Eddy Nahmias' “Is Free Will an Illusion?”.
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  24. Pratima Bowes (1971). Consciousness And Freedom: Three Views. London,: Methuen.
  25. Conal Boyce (2012). Recovering From Libet's Left Turn Into Veto-as-Volition: A Proposal for Dealing Honestly with the Central Mystery of Libet (1983). Open Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):17-24.
    With certain topics the general reader experiences a double-whammy wherein one must peer through a curtain of needlessly obscure jargon to try glimpsing something that is inherently weird in nature. Bell’s nonlocality was once such a topic, but authors have had considerable success over the years in showing where the line is between the enigma itself and the human-made oddities surrounding it . Libet-ology has yet to undergo that de-mystifying process. Accordingly, our first order of business here is to restate (...)
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  26. Jean E. Burns (2012). The Action of the Mind. In I. Fredriksson (ed.), Aspects of Consciousness. McFarland 204.
    It is assumed that mental action, such as free will, exists, and an exploration is made of its relationship to the brain, physical laws, and evolutionary selection. If the assumption is made that all content of conscious experience is encoded in the brain, it follows that free will must act as process only. This result is consistent with the experimental results of Libet and others that if free will exists, it must act by making a selection between alternatives provided by (...)
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  27. Jean E. Burns (2010). What Does the Mind Do That the Brain Does Not? In R. L. Amoroso (ed.), The Complementarity of Mind and Body: Fulfilling the Dream of Descartes, Einstein and Eccles. Nova Science
    Two forms of independent action by consciousness have been proposed by various researchers – free will and holistic processing. (Holistic processing contributes to the formation of behavior through the holistic use of brain programs and encoding.) The well-known experiment of Libet et al. (1983) implies that if free will exists, its action must consist of making a selection among alternatives presented by the brain. As discussed herein, this result implies that any physical changes mind can produce in the brain are (...)
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  28. Jean E. Burns (1999). Volition and Physical Laws. Journal of Consciousness Studies 6 (10):27-47.
    The concept of free will is central to our lives, as we make day-to-day decisions, and to our culture, in our ethical and legal systems. The very concept implies that what we choose can produce a change in our physical environment, whether by pressing a switch to turn out electric lights or choosing a long-term plan of action which can affect many people. Yet volition is not a part of presently known physical laws and it is not even known whether (...)
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  29. Graham Cairns-Smith, Thomas W. Clark, Ravi Gomatam, Robert H. Kane, Nicholas Maxwell, J. J. C. Smart, Sean A. Spence & Henry P. Stapp (2005). Commentaries on David Hodgson's "a Plain Person's Free Will". Journal of Consciousness Studies 12 (1):20-75.
    REMARKS ON EVOLUTION AND TIME-SCALES, Graham Cairns-Smith; HODGSON'S BLACK BOX, Thomas Clark; DO HODGSON'S PROPOSITIONS UNIQUELY CHARACTERIZE FREE WILL?, Ravi Gomatam; WHAT SHOULD WE RETAIN FROM A PLAIN PERSON'S CONCEPT OF FREE WILL?, Gilberto Gomes; ISOLATING DISPARATE CHALLENGES TO HODGSON'S ACCOUNT OF FREE WILL, Liberty Jaswal; FREE AGENCY AND LAWS OF NATURE, Robert Kane; SCIENCE VERSUS REALIZATION OF VALUE, NOT DETERMINISM VERSUS CHOICE, Nicholas Maxwell; COMMENTS ON HODGSON, J.J.C. Smart; THE VIEW FROM WITHIN, Sean Spence; COMMENTARY ON HODGSON, Henry Stapp.
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  30. Joseph Keim Campbell (2010). Review of Mark Balaguer, Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2010 (5).
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  31. Muñoz-Suárez Carlos M. & Campis René J. (2008). DID I DO IT? -YEAH, YOU DID! Reduction and Elimination in Philosophy and the Sciences:34- 37.
    In this paper we analyze Libet’s conclusions on «free will» (FW), rejecting his view of the concept and defending a partially aligned view with Wittgenstein’s early remarks on FW. First, the concept of Readiness Potential (RP) and Libet’s view are presented. Second, we offer an account of Wittgenstein´s point of view. Third, a dual-domain analysis is proposed; finally, we offer our conclusions. This article´s conclusion is part of an ongoing research.
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  32. Gregg Caruso (2012). Free Will and Consciousness: A Determinist Account of the Illusion of Free Will. Lexington Books.
    In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of free will. In this book I examine both the traditional philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will, as well as recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to consciousness (...)
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  33. Gang Chen (2008). Perception Dualism and Free Will. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 42:13-42.
    This paper is to spell out a version of perception dualism, whose ontological description of the mind-body relation is stronger than property dualism but weaker than substance dualism, that is, to define mental events as perceptions from an internal point of view and physical events as perceptions from an external point of view, then, the author set out to tackle some long-persisting ontological issues in philosophy of mind, such as the psycho-physical interaction, the criterion of mind, the clash between free (...)
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  34. Patricia Churchland, The Big Questions: Do We Have Free Will?
    As neuroscience uncovers these and other mechanisms regulating choices and social behaviour, we cannot help but wonder whether anyone truly chooses anything (though see "Is the universe deterministic?"). As a result, profound questions about responsibility are inescapable, not just regarding criminal justice, but in the day-to-day business of life. Given that, I suggest that free will, as traditionally understood, needs modification. Because of its importance in society, any description of free will updated to fit what we know about the nervous (...)
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  35. Patricia Smith Churchland (2002). Brain Wise. The MIT Press.
    A neurophilosopher?s take on the self, free will, human understanding, and the experience of God, from the perspective of the brain.
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  36. Thomas W. Clark (1997). Fear of Mechanism: A Compatibilist Critique of The Volitional Brain. In Libet, B., Freeman, A., Sutherland & K. (eds.), Journal of Consciousness Studies. Imprint Academic 8-9.
    This article reviews contributions to The Volitional Brain, some of which defend a libertarian, contra-causal account of free will, while others take a so-called compatibilist view, in which adequate conceptions of human liberty and moral responsibility are claimed to be compatible with naturalistic causality. Siding with compatibilism, this review finds that defenders of libertarian free will place undue weight on the first person feeling of freedom, while discounting scientific evidence that human choices are fully a function of antecedent causes at (...)
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  37. Wim E. Crusio (1999). Behavioral Neurogenetics Beyond Determinism. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):890-891.
    Rose's Lifelines justifiably attacks the rigid genetic determinism that pervades the popular press and even some scientific writing. Genes do not equate with destiny. However, Rose's argument should not be taken too far: genes do influence behavior, in animals as well as in man.
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  38. Paula Droege (2010). The Role of Unconsciousness in Free Will. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (5-6):5-6.
    Does neuroscience show that free will is an illusion? No, it shows that unconscious mental states are causally effective in action. Because free will includes initiation by both conscious and unconscious states, the self as free agent should be characterized in terms of more than her conscious deliberations to range over unconscious beliefs, memories and feelings. Further, the ways social relations influence action and the ways actions influence the social environment are relevant to a full account of free will. Given (...)
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  39. D. A. Drubach, A. A. Rabinstein & J. Molano (2011). Free Will, Freedom of Choice and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. Mens Sana Monographs 9 (1):238.
    The question whether human beings have free will has been debated by philosophers and theologians for thousands of years. More recently, neuroscientists have applied novel concepts and tools in neuroscience to address this question. We submit that human beings do have free will and the physiological substrate for its exercise is contained within neural networks. We discuss the potential neurobiology of free will by exploring volitionally initiated motor activity and the behavioural-response to a stimulus-response paradigm. We also submit that the (...)
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  40. Joseph Dumit (2003). Is It Me or My Brain? Depression and Neuroscientific Facts. Journal of Medical Humanities 24 (1/2):35-47.
    This article considers the roles played by brain images (e.g., from PET scans) in mass media as experienced by people suffering from mental illness, and as used by scientists and activist groups in demonstrating a biological basis for mental illness. Examining the rhetorical presentation of images in magazines and books, the article describes the persuasive power that brain images have in altering the understanding people have of their own body—their objective self. Analyzing first-person accounts of encounters with brain images, it (...)
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  41. Michael G. Dyer (1994). Quantum Physics and Consciousness, Creativity, Computers: A Commentary on Goswami's Quantum-Based Theory of Consciousness and Free Will. Journal of Mind and Behavior 15 (3):265-90.
    Goswami proposes to replace the current scientific paradigm of physical realism with that of a quantum-based monistic idealism and, in the process, accomplish the following goals: establish a basis for explaining consciousness, reintegrate spirituality, mysticism, morality, a sense that the universe is meaningful, etc., with scientific discoveries and the scientific enterprise, and support the assumption that humans possess free will - i.e., that they are not controlled by the apparently inexorable causality of the physical laws that govern the functioning of (...)
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  42. John C. Eccles (1976). Brain and Free Will. In Gordon G. Globus (ed.), Consciousness and the Brain. Plenum Press
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  43. Bruce Edmonds, Towards Implementing Free-Will.
    Some practical criteria for free-will are suggested where free-will is a matter of degree. It is argued that these are more appropriate than some extremely idealised conceptions. Thus although the paper takes lessons from philosophy it avoids idealistic approaches as irrelevant. A mechanism for allowing an agent to meet these criteria is suggested: that of facilitating the gradual emergence of free-will in the brain via an internal evolutionary process. This meets the requirement that not only must the choice of action (...)
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  44. Gerard Elfstrom (2008). Scientists and Free Will. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 42:63-68.
    Many scientists believe that the universe, including the human brain, is governed by natural laws and that all can be explained by natural processes. In consequence, they believe that all events, including brain events, are determined. From this, they often conclude that free will cannot exist. I believe these views are mistaken and will present several lines of argument to support this position. I conclude that the operation of free will is compatible with determinism, can be explained by natural processes (...)
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  45. Alexander T. Englert, Experience and Empiricism in Testing the Free Will. Ars Disputandi.
    This paper offers a critique of empirical tests of the free will, aiming at a presupposition underpinning the experiments’ methodology. The presupposition is that the artificial reporting of machines is prima facie directly congruent with the first-person perspectival report of the participant. A critique of the method reveals the problematic nature of this methodological set-up. The phenomenological critique, however, also carries implications for a theoretical framework dealing with ‘embodied’ religion; these implications will be dis-cussed via reference to the article by (...)
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  46. Francesco Ferretti, Massimo Marraffa & Mario De Caro (eds.) (2007). Cartographies of the Mind: The Interface Between Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Springer.
  47. C. M. Fisher (2001). If There Were No Free Will. Medical Hypotheses 56:364-366.
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  48. A. Flew (1984). Book Reviews : Free Will: A Defence Against Neurophysiological Determinism. By John Thorp. London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1980. Pp. XII + 162. 8.95. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 14 (4):585-586.
  49. Walter J. Freeman (1999). Neurogenetic Determinism is a Theological Doctrine. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):893-894.
    In “Lifelines” Steven Rose constructs a case against neurogenetic determinism based on experimental data from biology and in favor of a significant degree of self determination. Two philosophical errors in the case favoring neurogenetic determinism are illustrated by Rose: category mistakes and an excessively narrow view of causality restricted to the linear form.
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  50. Chris D. Frith (2009). Free Will Top-Down Control in the Brain. In Nancey Murphy, George Ellis, O. ’Connor F. R. & Timothy (eds.), Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will. Springer Verlag 199--209.
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