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Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Front. Philos. China    2018, Vol. 13 Issue (3) : 361-376     https://doi.org/10.3868/s030-007-018-0028-5
Orginal Article |
Philosophy and Science Dialogue: Free Will
Marcel Brass1(), Derk Pereboom2()
1. Department of Experimental Psychology, Ghent University, 9000 Gent, Belgium
2. Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA
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Abstract

In this dialogue Derk Pereboom and Marcel Brass discuss the free will problem from the perspective of philosophy and cognitive neuroscience. First, they give their opinion on how the two disciplines contribute to the free will problem. While Pereboom is optimistic regarding the contribution of science, Brass is more pessimistic and questions the usefulness of an empirical approach to the question whether free will exists or not. Then they outline their position on the free will problem. The idea of a transcendental agent is discussed in more detail. Furthermore, it is discussed whether free will scepticism is a politically, socially, psychologically viable position. Pereboom argues that promoting the idea of free will scepticism can have a positive impact on retributive emotions and the political practice regarding retributive punishment. Brass argues that retributive emotions are deeply rooted in evolution and therefore difficult to change via high-level beliefs about free will. Finally, the future of the free will debate is discussed. Both agree that the dialogue between philosophy and psychology should be intensified. Philosophy can benefit from taking empirical research more seriously. Psychology and neuroscience can benefit from philosophy by appreciating the sophistication and conceptual clarity of the philosophical debate. Both have to find a common language and define common problems that can be tackled from both perspectives.

Keywords free will      neuroscience      moral responsibility      retribution reactive attitudes      skepticism     
Issue Date: 25 September 2018
 Cite this article:   
Marcel Brass,Derk Pereboom. Philosophy and Science Dialogue: Free Will[J]. Front. Philos. China, 2018, 13(3): 361-376.
 URL:  
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/10.3868/s030-007-018-0028-5
http://journal.hep.com.cn/fpc/EN/Y2018/V13/I3/361
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