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Summary Most philosophers hold that the free will debate is largely conceptual, but at very least we must look to the sciences to discover whether the conditions we identify as required for free will are actual. For instance, if free will requires that determinism is false, we must look to physics to discover the nature of causal processes. More generally, many people have seen in the special sciences possible threats to the existence or constraints on the extent of free will.
Key works A number of philosophers have hoped to secure libertarian free will by reference to quantum mechanics. See for a signal instance Hodgson 2012. A great deal of attention has been paid to possible threats from psychology and from neuroscience. Swinburne 2011 presents essays surveying these issues while Mele 2009 is near definitive. Behavioral genetics has received less attention: Wasserman & Wachbroit 2001 is a useful collection.
Introductions Mele 2008;Mele 2011
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  1. Dem wissenschaftlichen Determinismus auf der Spur. Von der klassischen Mechanik zur Entstehung der Quantenphysik.Donata Romizi - 2019 - Freiburg im Breisgau, Deutschland: Karl Alber.
    The book (a revised version of my PhD thesis) deals with the changing nature and with the history of the concept of scientific determinism from the classical mechanics until the time immediately preceding quantum mechanics: such a historical-philosophical reconstruction is aimed at (1) signalizing and overcoming the deficiencies of the received opinion on the topic and (2) understanding better a concept which has influenced science from the beginning. -/- Before dealing with historical matters I develop in the first Chapter a (...)
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  2. Strong Determinism.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    A strongly deterministic theory of physics is one that permits exactly one possible history of the universe. In the words of Penrose (1989), "it is not just a matter of the future being determined by the past; the entire history of the universe is fixed, according to some precise mathematical scheme, for all time.” Such an extraordinary feature may appear unattainable in any realistic and simple theory of physics. In this paper, I propose a definition of strong determinism and contrast (...)
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  3. Obrana determinismu.Filip Tvrdý - 1997 - Proglas 8 (10):37-38.
    Reakce na článek Johna Carrolla "Proti svobodné vůli", Proglas, roč. 8, čís. 5-6 (1997), s. 14-18.
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  4. Sizing Up Free Will: The Scale of Compatibilism.Stuart Doyle - 2021 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 42 (3 & 4):271-289.
    Is human free will compatible with the natural laws of the universe? To “compatibilists” who see free actions as emanating from the wants and reasons of human agents, free will looks perfectly plausible. However, “incompatibilists” claim to see the more ultimate sources of human action. The wants and reasons of agents are said to be caused by physical processes which are themselves mere natural results of the previous state of the world and the natural laws which govern it. This paper (...)
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  5. Moral Psychology, Volume 4. [REVIEW]Joshua Shepherd - 2014 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 5 (19).
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  6. Ciencia, libertad y ética.Gustavo E. Romero - 2020 - Ciencia Del Sur 2 (12.08.2020):1-34.
    La representación científica del mundo se construye sobre un tejido de teorías en las cuales hay enunciados generales que representan leyes naturales. Estas leyes son patrones de sucesos regulares. Un presupuesto básico de la ciencia es que todo acontecimiento es legal: ocurre regido por leyes que son fijas. ¿Es compatible esa legalidad con la libertad de elección que creemos tener? ¿Cuáles son las implicaciones para la libertad política que debemos esperar en una sociedad organizada y racional? ¿Cuál es el rol (...)
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  7. Henry P. Stapp. Quantum Theory and Free Will: How Mental Intentions Translate Into Bodily Actions.Alin Christoph Cucu - 2020 - Philosophia Christi 22 (1):175-179.
  8. Desperately Seeking Sourcehood.Hannah Tierney & David Glick - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):953-970.
    In a recent essay, Deery and Nahmias :1255–1276, 2017) utilize interventionism about causation to develop an account of causal sourcehood in order to defend compatibilism about free will and moral responsibility from manipulation arguments. In this paper, we criticize Deery and Nahmias’s analysis of sourcehood by drawing a distinction between two forms of causal invariance that can come into conflict on their account. We conclude that any attempt to resolve this conflict will either result in counterintuitive attributions of moral responsibility (...)
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  9. Free Will: Real or Illusion - A Debate.Gregg D. Caruso, Christian List & Cory J. Clark - 2020 - The Philosopher 108 (1).
    Debate on free will with Christian List, Gregg Caruso, and Cory Clark. The exchange is focused on Christian List's book Why Free Will Is Real.
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  10. Free Will and Compatibilism.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The author mounts a case against the libertarian and hard determinist's thesis that free will is impossible in a deterministic world. He charges incompatibilists with misconstruing ordinary 'free will' talk by overlaying common language with their own metaphysical presuppositions. Through a review of ordinary discourse and recent developments in jurisprudence and the sciences, he draws together the four key factors required for an act to be free. He then puts his 4C theory to work in giving a credible account of (...)
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  11. Free Will & Empirical Arguments for Epiphenomenalism.Nadine Elzein - 2020 - In Peter Róna & László Zsolnai (eds.), Agency and Causal Explanation in Economics. Virtues and Economics, vol 5. Cham, Switzerland: Springer. pp. 3-20.
    While philosophers have worried about mental causation for centuries, worries about the causal relevance of conscious phenomena are also increasingly featuring in neuroscientific literature. Neuroscientists have regarded the threat of epiphenomenalism as interesting primarily because they have supposed that it entails free will scepticism. However, the steps that get us from a premise about the causal irrelevance of conscious phenomena to a conclusion about free will are not entirely clear. In fact, if we examine popular philosophical accounts of free will, (...)
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  12. Why Free Will is Real.Christian List - 2019 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
    Philosophers have argued about the nature and the very existence of free will for centuries. Today, many scientists and scientifically minded commentators are skeptical that it exists, especially when it is understood to require the ability to choose between alternative possibilities. If the laws of physics govern everything that happens, they argue, then how can our choices be free? Believers in free will must be misled by habit, sentiment, or religious doctrine. Why Free Will Is Real defies scientific orthodoxy and (...)
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  13. Behavioral Explanations Reduce Retributive Punishment but Not Reward: The Mediating Role of Conscious Will.Joshua A. Confer & William J. Chopik - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102808.
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  14. Respuestas a los comentaristas.Carlos Moya - 2018 - Quaderns de Filosofia 5 (1):127-147.
    Replies to commentators Respuestas a los comentarios críticos de Carlos Patarroyo, Mirja Pérez de Calleja y Pablo Rychter.
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  15. Sinopsis de "El libre albedrío. Un estudio filosófico".Carlos Moya - 2018 - Quaderns de Filosofia 5 (1):83-89.
    Précis of El libre albedrío. Un estudio filosófico En este libro nos hemos planteado varios objetivos. En primer lugar, ofrecer al lector una guía o mapa que le oriente en el complejo territorio del debate sobre el libre albedrío. En segundo lugar, abogar por una determinada concepción del libre albedrío, a saber, el libertarismo, frente a otras posibles, en especial el compatibilismo. En tercer lugar, defender la existencia del libre albedrío frente a diversos desafíos, de tipos también diversos, que la (...)
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  16. The Hand of God or the Hand of Maradona? Believing in Free Will Increases Perceived Intentionality of Others’ Behavior.Oliver Genschow, Davide Rigoni & Marcel Brass - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 70:80-87.
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  17. Free Actions as a Natural Kind.Oisín Deery - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):823-843.
    Do we have free will? Understanding free will as the ability to act freely, and free actions as exercises of this ability, I maintain that the default answer to this question is “yes.” I maintain that free actions are a natural kind, by relying on the influential idea that kinds are homeostatic property clusters. The resulting position builds on the view that agents are a natural kind and yields an attractive alternative to recent revisionist accounts of free action. My view (...)
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  18. Agent-Causal Libertarianism, Statistical Neural Laws and Wild Coincidences.Jason Runyan - 2018 - Synthese 195 (10):4563-4580.
    Agent-causal libertarians maintain we are irreducible agents who, by acting, settle matters that aren’t already settled. This implies that the neural matters underlying the exercise of our agency don’t conform to deterministic laws, but it does not appear to exclude the possibility that they conform to statistical laws. However, Pereboom (Noûs 29:21–45, 1995; Living without free will, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001; in: Nadelhoffer (ed) The future of punishment, Oxford University Press, New York, 2013) has argued that, if these neural (...)
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  19. Downward Causation and Supervenience: The Non-Reductionist’s Extra Argument for Incompatibilism.Joana Rigato - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (3):384-399.
    Agent-causal theories of free will, which rely on a non-reductionist account of the agent, have traditionally been associated with libertarianism. However, some authors have recently argued in favor of compatibilist agent-causal accounts. In this essay, I will show that such accounts cannot avoid serious problems of implausibility or incoherence. A careful analysis of the implications of non-reductionist views of the agent (event-causal or agent-causal as they may be) reveals that such views necessarily imply either the denial of the principle of (...)
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  20. The Philosophy of Free Will: Essential Readings From the Contemporary Debates.Paul Russell & Oisin Deery (eds.) - 2013 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    This collection provides a selection of the most essential contributions to the contemporary free will debate. Among the issues discussed and debated are skepticism and naturalism, alternate possibilities, the consequence argument, libertarian metaphysics, illusionism and revisionism, optimism and pessimism, neuroscience and free will, and experimental philosophy.
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  21. Physical Science and Man's Position.Niels Bohr - 1957 - Philosophy Today 1 (1):65-69.
  22. Scientific Beliefs About Oneself.Donald MacKay - 1970 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 4:48-63.
    In the never-ending debate about the scope and limits of science, the hottest argument now centres on the scientific study of man himself. Can there be a science of man at all, in any comprehensive sense? Or is the idea in some way ultimately self-defeating, like that of pulling oneself up by one's own shoelaces? My purpose in this paper is not to venture a direct answer to this ticklish question, but rather to highlight one or two desirable characteristics of (...)
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  23. Paradox and Tragedy in Human Morality.Pouwel Slurink - 1994 - International Political Science Review 15 (347):378.
    An evolutionary approach to ethics supports, to some extent, the sceptical meta-ethics found by some of the Greek sophists and Nietzsche. On the other hand, a modern naturalistic account on the origin and nature of morality, leads to somewhat different conclusions. This is demonstrated with an answer to three philosophical questions: does real freedom exist?, does the good, or real virtue, exist?, does life have a meaning?
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Free Will and Genetics
  1. Reseña de ‘¿Estamos cableados?’ (Are We Hardwired?) por Clark & Grunstein Oxford (2000).Michael Richard Starks - 2020 - In Comprender las Conexiones entre Ciencia, Filosofía, Psicología, Religión, Política, Economía, Historia y Literatura- Artículos y reseñas 2006-2019. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 345-348.
    Esta es una excelente revisión de las interacciones gen/ambiente en el comportamiento y, a pesar de ser un poco anticuado, es una lectura fácil y valiosa. Empiezan con estudios gemelos que muestran el impacto abrumador de la genética en el comportamiento. Señalan los estudios cada vez más conocidos de Judith Harris, que amplían y resumen los hechos de que el ambiente doméstico compartido casi no tiene efecto sobre el comportamiento y que los niños adoptados crecen para ser tan diferentes de (...)
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  2. Altruism, Jesus and the End of the World—How the Templeton Foundation Bought a Harvard Professorship and Attacked Evolution, Rationality and Civilization. A Review of E.O. Wilson 'The Social Conquest of Earth' (2012) and Nowak and Highfield ‘SuperCooperators’(2012)(Review Revised 2019).Michael Starks - 2019 - In Suicidal Utopian Delusions in the 21st Century -- Philosophy, Human Nature and the Collapse of Civilization -- Articles and Reviews 2006-2019 4th Edition Michael Starks. Las Vegas, NV USA: Reality Press. pp. 377-391.
    Famous ant-man E.O. Wilson has always been one of my heroes --not only an outstanding biologist, but one of the tiny and vanishing minority of intellectuals who at least dares to hint at the truth about our nature that others fail to grasp, or insofar as they do grasp, studiously avoid for political expedience. Sadly, he is ending his long career in a most sordid fashion as a party to an ignorant and arrogant attack on science motivated at least in (...)
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  3. No Free Will.Will Provine - 1999 - Isis 90 (S2):S117-S132.
  4. Free-Will as a Function of Divergence.Ivan D. London - 1948 - Psychological Review 55 (1):41-47.
  5. Genetics and Criminal Behavior.David Wasserman & Robert Wachbroit (eds.) - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.
    In this 2001 volume a group of leading philosophers address some of the basic conceptual, methodological and ethical issues raised by genetic research into criminal behavior. The essays explore the complexities of tracing any genetic influence on criminal, violent or antisocial behavior; the varieties of interpretations to which evidence of such influences is subject; and the relevance of such influences to the moral and legal appraisal of criminal conduct. The distinctive features of this collection are: first, that it advances public (...)
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  6. Kane is Not Able: A Reply to Vicens’ “Self-Forming Actions and Confl Icts of Intention”.Gregg D. Caruso - 2015 - Southwest Philosophy Review 31 (2):21-26.
  7. Embodied Free Will Beliefs: Some Effects of Physical States on Metaphysical Opinions.Michael R. Ent & Roy F. Baumeister - 2014 - Consciousness and Cognition 27:147-154.
  8. The True Ramifications of Genetic Criminality Research for Free Will in the Criminal Justice System.Ozan Onay - 2006 - Genomics, Society and Policy 2 (1):80-91.
    There is an explicit belief – evident in jurisprudential literature – that developments in behavioural genetics in the very near future will necessitate a dramatic revolution in common law criminal justice systems. This paper considers what is truly shown by behavioural genetics in relation to free will, and the effect of such conclusions on criminal justice systems which rely upon the concept of free will as a foundation element. This paper ultimately concludes that it is unlikely that criminal justice systems (...)
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  9. Freedom Evolves.John Martin Fischer - 2003 - Journal of Philosophy 100 (12):632-637.
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  10. Free Will and the Genome Project.Patricia S. Greenspan - 1993 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (1):31-43.
    Popular and scientific accounts of the U.S. Human Genome Project often express concern about the implications of the project for the philosophic question of free will and responsibility. However, on its standard construal within philosophy, the question of free will versus determinism poses no special problems in relation to genetic research. The paper identifies a variant version of the free will question, free will versus internal constraint, that might well pose a threat to notions of individual autonomy and virtue in (...)
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  11. Free Will and Genetic Determinism: Locating the Problem.Patricia S. Greenspan - manuscript
    I was led to this clarificatory job initially by some puzzlement from a philosopher's standpoint about just why free will questions should come up particularly in connection with the genome project, as opposed to the many other scientific research programs that presuppose determinism. The philosophic concept of determinism involves explanation of all events, including human action, by prior causal factors--so that whether or not human behavior has a genetic basis, it ultimately gets traced back to _something_ true of the world (...)
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  12. Genes, Electrotransmitters, and Free Will.Patricia S. Greenspan - 2001 - In Patricia S. Greenspan, David Wasserman & Robert Wachbroit (eds.), Genetics and Criminal Behavior: Methods, Meanings, and Morals. Cambridge University Press.
    There seems to be evidence of a genetic component in criminal behavior. It is widely agreed not to be "deterministic"--by which discussions outside philosophy seem to mean that by itself it is not sufficient to determine behavior. Environmental factors make a decisive difference--for that matter, there are nongenetic biological factors--in whether and how genetic.
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  13. Genetic and Generic Determinism: A New Threat to Free Will?Peter Lipton - 2004 - In D. Rees & Steven P. R. Rose (eds.), The New Brain Sciences: Perils and Prospects. Cambridge University Press. pp. 88.
    We are discovering more and more about the human genotypes and about the connections between genotype and behaviour. Do these advances in genetic information threaten our free will? This paper offers a philosopher’s perspective on the question.
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  14. Igniting the Flicker of Freedom: Revisiting the Frankfurt Scenario.Garry Young - 2007 - Philosophia 35 (2):171-180.
    This paper aims to challenge the view that the sign present in many Frankfurt-style scenarios is insufficiently robust to constitute evidence for the possibility of an alternate decision, and therefore inadequate as a means of determining moral responsibility. I have amended Frankfurt’s original scenario, so as to allow Jones, as well as Black, the opportunity to monitor his (Jones’s) own inclination towards a particular decision (the sign). Different outcome possibilities are presented, to the effect that Jones’s awareness of his own (...)
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Free Will and Neuroscience
  1. The Naturalistic Case for Free Will.Christian List - forthcoming - In Stavros Ioannidis, Gal Vishne, Meir Hemmo & Orly Shenker (eds.), Levels of Reality in Science and Philosophy. Cham: Springer.
    The aim of this expository paper is to give an informal overview of a plausible naturalistic case for free will. I will describe what I take to be the main naturalistically motivated challenges for free will and respond to them by presenting an indispensability argument for free will. The argument supports the reality of free will as an emergent higher-level phenomenon. I will also explain why the resulting picture of free will does not conflict with the possibility that the fundamental (...)
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  2. Libertarian Free Will and the Physical Indeterminism Luck Objection.Dwayne Moore - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (1):159-182.
    Libertarian free will is, roughly, the view that agents cause actions to occur or not occur: Maddy’s decision to get a beer causes her to get up off her comfortable couch to get a beer, though she almost chose not to get up. Libertarian free will notoriously faces the luck objection, according to which agential states do not determine whether an action occurs or not, so it is beyond the control of the agent, hence lucky, whether an action occurs or (...)
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  3. Mijn intenties en ik. Filosofie van de vrije wil.Lieke Asma - 2021 - Amsterdam, Niederlande: Boom uitgevers Amsterdam.
    Vrije wil is een raadselachtig fenomeen. Wij mensen hebben de indruk dat we zelf keuzes maken, maar de wetenschap vertelt een heel ander verhaal: onze handelingen zijn slechts het resultaat van onze persoonlijke eigenschappen, onbewuste associaties en hersenprocessen. Ons bewuste zelf is niets meer dan een passieve toeschouwer. Het is dan ook niet verrassend dat wetenschappelijk onderzoek vaak uitmondt in determinisme of ‘willusionisme’. -/- Maar wat is vrije wil eigenlijk? En wat betekent het om zelf te kiezen? In Mijn intenties (...)
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  4. Free Will? What’s That?Marco Masi - manuscript
    The question of whether we have free will is a longstanding philosophical debate that has led to divided fronts and interpretations. The first ambiguity arises due to a misconception about the relation between causal determinism, as formulated in classical physics, and the notion of free will, which, once clarified, undermines not only compatibilism but also naïve formulations of libertarianism. We show that either one maintains a material monistic physical causal determinism and must give up free will, or one must give (...)
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  5. Quantum Propensities in the Brain Cortex and Free Will.Danko D. Georgiev - 2021 - Biosystems 208:104474.
    Capacity of conscious agents to perform genuine choices among future alternatives is a prerequisite for moral responsibility. Determinism that pervades classical physics, however, forbids free will, undermines the foundations of ethics, and precludes meaningful quantification of personal biases. To resolve that impasse, we utilize the characteristic indeterminism of quantum physics and derive a quantitative measure for the amount of free will manifested by the brain cortical network. The interaction between the central nervous system and the surrounding environment is shown to (...)
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  6. What Is the Readiness Potential?Aaron Schurger, Pengbo 'Ben' Hu, Joanna Pak & Adina L. Roskies - forthcoming - Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
    The readiness potential (RP), a slow buildup of electrical potential recorded at the scalp using electroencephalography, has been associated with neural activity involved in movement preparation. It became famous thanks to Benjamin Libet (Brain 1983;106:623–642), who used the time difference between the RP and self-reported time of conscious intention to move to argue that we lack free will. The RP’s informativeness about self-generated action and derivatively about free will has prompted continued research on this neural phenomenon. Here, we argue that (...)
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  7. "Beyond Rooted Digressions: The Concept of Moral; Reclaiming the Universality of its Objective Reality".Joely Villalba - 2021 - In "New Visions on Old Views; Philosophical Essays". Outskirts Press, Inc.. pp. 106.
    The endeavor of this proposal seeks to engage the intellect in a new perspective of Moral along those characteristic operations of human nature/faculties elucidated to periodically delineate -in accordance with a theoretical framework-, the evolutional outcome of four distinct sets of free willed actions capable of denoting the gradual advancement of conduct, herein deemed as the universal path to moral conduct. In addition, the distinctive particularities defining the singularities of their outcome were perceived to duly sustain the moral guidance that (...)
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  8. Consciousness, Free Will, and Transformation.Gramann Pratibha - 2014 - Dialogo 1 (1):52-55.
    The existence of free will has been discovered by neurological studies. However there is a lack of research in what initiates the firing of free will within the nerve endings. This paper addresses that issue using ancient knowledge about consciousness, three energies that characterize matter, prana, and transformation. The premise made is that regular pranayam breath practices are a key-method to initiate the firing of nerve synapse in the brain to develop free will and transformation.
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  9. Foreword.Christian Coseru - 2018 - In Rick Repetti (ed.), Buddhism, Meditation, and Free Will : A Theory of Mental Freedom. New York, USA: Routledge.
    The question of whether freedom is incompatible with determinism frames much of the contemporary conversation on agency and moral responsibility. Those who look to science for answers reason that it is just a matter of time before science settles the question of free will once and for all (and settles it against deeply entrenched beliefs about libertarian freedom). Even incompatibilists, who think freedom is incompatible with determinism, are weary that concepts such as intention, deliberation, decision, and the weighing of reasons, (...)
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  10. Freedom and Reason: An Anselmian Critique of Susan Wolf's Compatiblism.Robert Allen - 2013 - Saint Anselm Journal 9 (1):01-13.
    Susan Wolf’s compatibilism is unique for being ‘asymmetrical.' While holding that blameworthiness entails being able to avoid acting wrongly, she maintains that our freedom consists in single-mindedly pursuing Truth and Goodness. Comparing and contrasting her position to Saint Anselm’s seminal, libertarian approach to the same subject elicits serious questions, highlighting its drawbacks. How could freedom entail the inability to do certain things? In what sense are reasons causes? What sense can be made of a double standard for assignments of responsibility? (...)
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  11. The Role of Consciousness in Free Action.Philip Woodward - forthcoming - In Joe Campbell, Kristin M. Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.), Wiley Companion to Free Will. Wiley.
    It is intuitive that free action depends on consciousness in some way, since behavior that is unconsciously generated is widely regarded as un-free. But there is no clear consensus as to what such dependence comes to, in part because there is no clear consensus about either the cognitive role of consciousness or about the essential components of free action. I divide the space of possible views into four: the Constitution View (on which free actions metaphysically consist, at least in part, (...)
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  12. Why Libet-Style Experiments Cannot Refute All Forms of Libertarianism.László Bernáth - 2019 - In Bernard Feltz, Marcus Missal & Andrew Sims (eds.), Free Will, Causality, and Neuroscience. Leiden, Hollandia: pp. 97-119.
    In my paper, I spell out which types of libertarian theories can be refuted by Libet-style experiments and which cannot. I claim that, on the one hand, some forms of deliberative libertarianism and restrictive libertarianism cannot even in principle be denied on the basis of these experiments; and on the other hand, standard libertarianism, along with some versions of restrictive and deliberative libertarianism, can in principle be refuted by these experiments. However, any form of restrictive libertarianism can be refuted in (...)
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  13. Quantum Psychoid Freewill ? Excerpt By.Donato Santarcangelo - 2014 - Milano MI, Italia: By: T. Cantalupi, D. Santarcangelo, Psiche e Realtà - Tecniche Nuove.
    What we've considered so far about the epistemology of human sciences comes up again as to the concept of "destiny''and human free will: who "must" tell us if we are destined or not? Either Neuroscientists or sociologists? Either Philosophers or biochemists? Has psychology anything to say? Do we need a pool to gather them all? Many other questions come up: what determines us and how much? ls there any sense in talking about destiny? We are a complex system and our (...)
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