David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Neuroethics 3 (1):23-41 (2010)
According to a widespread view, a complete explanatory reduction of all aspects of the human mind to the electro-chemical functioning of the brain is at hand and will certainly produce vast and positive cultural, political and social consequences. However, notwithstanding the astonishing advances generated by the neurosciences in recent years for our understanding of the mechanisms and functions of the brain, the application of these findings to the specific but crucial issue of human agency can be considered a “pre-paradigmatic science” (in Thomas Kuhn’s sense). This implies that the situation is, at the same time, intellectually stimulating and methodologically confused. More specifically—because of the lack of a solid, unitary and coherent methodological framework as to how to connect neurophysiology and agency—it frequently happens that tentative approaches, bold but very preliminary claims and even clearly flawed interpretations of experimental data are taken for granted. In this article some examples of such conceptual confusions and intellectual hubris will be presented, which derive from the most recent literature at the intersection between neurosciences, on the one hand, and philosophy, politics and social sciences, on the other hand. It will also be argued that, in some of these cases, hasty and over-ambitious conclusions may produce negative social and political consequences. The general upshot will be that very much has still to be clarified as to what and how neurosciences can tell us about human agency and that, in the meantime, intellectual and methodological caution is to be recommended.
|Keywords||Human agency Free will Neuropolitics Neuroethics Social neuroscience|
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas S. Kuhn (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
Robert H. Kane (1996). The Significance of Free Will. Oxford University Press.
Shaun Nichols & Joshua Knobe (2007). Moral Responsibility and Determinism: The Cognitive Science of Folk Intuitions. Noûs 41 (4):663–685.
Citations of this work BETA
Jeff Miller & Wolf Schwarz (2014). Brain Signals Do Not Demonstrate Unconscious Decision Making: An Interpretation Based on Graded Conscious Awareness. Consciousness and Cognition 24 (1):12-21.
Karma Lekshe Tsomo (2012). Compassion, Ethics, and Neuroscience: Neuroethics Through Buddhist Eyes. [REVIEW] Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (3):529-537.
Adela Cortina (2013). Ética del discurso: ¿un marco filosófico para la neuroética? Isegoría 48:127-148.
A. Kehagia, K. Tairyan, C. Federico, G. Glover & J. Illes (2012). More Education, Less Administration: Reflections of Neuroimagers' Attitudes to Ethics Through the Qualitative Looking Glass. [REVIEW] Science and Engineering Ethics 18 (4):775-788.
Andrea Lavazza (2016). Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 10.
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