Monthly Archives: August 2014

Al Mele and Eddy Nahmias

Al Mele and Eddy Nahmias on free will and science.

Mele and Nahmias start by explaining how they first became seriously interested in the relationship of free will to science. Then (12:44) they discuss the infamous Libet experiments, which are often interpreted as evidence that our conscious decisions are determined by earlier nonconscious brain activity, along with a range of other experiments in neuroscience that also bear on issues concerning human free agency. Next (25:31) they consider general worries that underlie neuroscientific investigations of free will. Then (41:28) they discuss whether (and how) results in social psychology could undermine free human agency. After that, they discuss future prospects for scientific investigation of free will (46:14), including Mele’s (exceptionally generous) Templeton-sponsored grants. They conclude (53:55) with some reflections on the definition of free will.

The deadline for the Philosophy of Self-Control grant applications is Sept. 1, 2014.

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Filed under Philosophy of Action, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Psychology, x-phi

Justin Sytsma and Adam Arico

Justin Sytsma and Adam Arico on folk intuitions about phenomenal experience.

Note: This is the final entry in a series of PTV discussions involving contributors to Machery and O’Neill (eds.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy (2014)

Sytsma and Arico begin with an overview of empirical investigations of folk intuitions about phenomenal consciousness. Then (15:03) they consider the landmark 2010 study by Sytsma and Machery, which produced evidence that the folk are largely willing to ascribe perceptual experience (“seeing red”) to a simple robot, but unwilling to ascribe bodily sensation (“feeling pain”) to the robot. (Interestingly, the same study also probed philosophers’ responses, which turned out to differ from those of the folk.) After that, they discuss (20:15) whether the Agency Model developed by Arico and colleagues can adequately account for the Sytsma and Machery results, and consider a range of other interpretations and follow-up studies. They conclude (53:58) by considering possibilities for future empirical work on folk views of phenomenal consciousness.

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Filed under Philosophy of Mind, x-phi