A Dialogue on Free Will and Science

ISBN : 9780199329298

Alfred R. Mele
128 Pages
141 x 209 mm
Pub date
Nov 2013
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In A Dialogue on Free Will and Science, renowned philosopher Alfred Mele explores the experiments in neuroscience and psychology that have been said to pose the greatest challenges to free will. He uses an imagined dialogue among several characters to make what is typically a complex topic more accessible and engaging for students. Guided by the question "How much power do these scientific challenges have?", the characters first consider what having free will means and then react to well-known experiments that question its existence, including work by Libet and Milgram and the bystander, dime, and Stanford prison experiments. Their discussions show how useful philosophical methods can be in assessing and interpreting scientific findings, thereby revealing certain weaknesses in these scientific challenges. Ideal for courses in free will, introduction to philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science, A Dialogue on Free Will and Science encourages students to form their own opinions on the validity and strength of the major scientific challenges to free will.


1. Monday Afternoon
What does "free will" mean?
Three answers: regular, mid-grade, and premium
2. Monday Night
Regular free will
Frankfurt-style stories
The zygote argument
Moral responsibility
3. Tuesday Afternoon
Mid-grade free will
Deep openness
Moral responsibility again
Premium free will
A survey
4. Tuesday Night
Libet's neuroscience experiments
5. Wednesday Afternoon
An fMRI experiment
Buridan's ass
A depth electrode experiment
Consciousness at work
Ramachandran's thought experiment
6. Wednesday Night
Gazzaniga on free will
Nylon stocking experiment
Dime experiment
Bystander experiment
Good Samaritan experiment
7. Thursday Afternoon
Milgram's experiments and free will
Bystander experiment and free will
Dime experiment and free will
Stanford prison experiment and free will
8. Thursday Night
Wegner on free will
Implementation intentions and consciousness in action
9. Friday Afternoon
Scientific evidence and regular free will
Scientific evidence and mid-grade free will
10. Friday Night
Scientific evidence and premium free will
Agent causation
Regular and mid-grade free will again

About the author: 

Alfred R. Mele has been the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University since 2000. He is the author or coeditor of several books including Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will (2012), Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? (2010), Effective Intentions: The Power of Conscious Will (2009), and Free Will and Luck (2006), all published by Oxford University Press.

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