David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
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|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Carissa Véliz (2011). Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? Rethinking Causal Directions Between Neural Mechanisms, Agency, and Human Enhancement. American Journal of Bioethics 2 (3):46-48.
David DeMoss (2003). Connectionist Agency. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 10 (2):9-15.
Donald J. Musacchio (2005). Divine and Human Agency in the Work of Social Justice. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 79:279-288.
Andrew Gardner (ed.) (2004). Agency Uncovered: Archaeological Perspectives on Social Agency, Power, and Being Human. Ucl Press.
Sabine Maasen & Barbara Sutter (eds.) (2007). On Willing Selves: Neoliberal Politics Vis-à-Vis the Neuroscientific Challenge. Plagrave Macmiilan.
C. I. Jiwei (2011). Evaluating Agency: A Fundamental Question for Social and Political Philosophy. Metaphilosophy 42 (3):261-281.
S. Matthew Liao (2010). Agency and Human Rights. Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (1):15-25.
Added to index2009-11-18
Total downloads88 ( #10,951 of 1,004,686 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #28,177 of 1,004,686 )
How can I increase my downloads?