Mauro de Caro

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Le Neuroscienze tra spiegazione della vita e cura della mente, Padova 8 -10 maggio 2012

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Mauro de Caro

  1. 1. Mario De Caro (Università Roma Tre – Tufts University) Free willand the scientific view of the world Padua, Conference on Neuroethics May 9, 2012
  2. 2. A double isolationism• 1. “The free will problem is indeed an empirical problem. So science alone (and especially neuroscience) can, and soon will, solve the free problem.”• 2. “The free will problem is indeed a purely conceptual problem. So philosophy alone should deal with it, in order to clarify and (hopefully) solve it.”
  3. 3. A. Scientific isolationism“The free will problem is indeed an empirical problem. So science alone (and especially neuroscience) can, and probably will, solve the free problem.”
  4. 4. Why the neurosciences will not solve the free problem I1. What free will is, is deeply controversial (it is not like establishing what the bosons or the genes are!).2. Conceptual analysis (i.e. philosophy) is indispensable in order to define free will in an adequate way. And in doing so many issues have to be dealt with: i. Is FW compatible with determinism or even requires it? ii. Does FW requires indetermism? iii. Does FW only concern volitions or also actions? iv. Is FW a necessary condition of moral responsibility? v. Is awareness of decisions a precondition of FW?
  5. 5. Why the neurosciences will not solve the free problem II The Dominant Argument of the Scientific Isolationist “The evidence that our volitions and actions are neurophysiologically determined does ipso facto prove that FW is an illusion” NO, it doesn’t, because of the compatibilistic option.
  6. 6. Why the neurosciences will not solve the free problem III A methodological issue: the question of the “urge”. a. Feeling and urge is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition of free decisions. b. The intersection between the set of free actions and the set of actions preceeded by an urge is pretty small and not very significant.
  7. 7. B. Philosophical isolationism“The free will problem is indeed a purely conceptual problem. So philosophy alone should deal with it, in order to clarify and (hopefully) solve it.”
  8. 8. Why philosophy alone cannot solve the free problem I Among the philosophical theories of FW, some of the most important have essential empirical commitments: a. In the libertarian field, the indeterministic causalists views (Kane, Searle) and some agent- causalist views (O’Connor, Dupré) assume the existence of relevant indeterministic moments in the causal chains that end in our actions.
  9. 9. Why philosophy alone cannot solve the free problem IIb. In the compatibilist field, the so called “super-compatibilists” argue that freedom is possible because our actions are actually causally determined.N.B. Determinism or determination?
  10. 10. Philosophical isolationist views of FW I Kant’s viewa. Had Kant known about QM, would he havethought of the Third Antinony?b. Is the idea of the noumenical world stillacceptable?
  11. 11. Philosophical isolationist views of FW II P.F. Strawson’s viewWe could not abandon the idea that we are responsible, even if had good reasons to do so.Support of Strawson’s view 1. Rationalistic argument 2. Naturalistic argument
  12. 12. Philosophical isolationist views of FW III New Compatibilism view• The idea that FW requires the “possibility of doing otherwise” is misguided.• What really matters for moral responsibility (and therefore what we should look for when we think of FW) is the ability to act for reasons.
  13. 13. A difficulty for New CompatibilismOne of the strenghts of the traditional compatibilist view is that it can account for the causalist intuition about freedom:W.V. Quine: “Like Spinoza, Hume, and so many others, I count an act as free insofar as the agent’s motives or drives are a link in its causal chain.”
  14. 14. But…New Compatibilism cannot easily account for the causalist intuition (if it can at all).The best strategy for the New Compatibilists is probably trying to show that the causalist intuition is wrong. But it is so?
  15. 15. Free will and natureBasic naturalism as a requirement for contemporary philosophy, especially when dealing with problems like free will.Worshould be done by negotiating between conceptual analysis and empirical evidence.But can a reflective equilibrium ever be found there?

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