Browsing by Subject "free will"

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  • Pernu, Tuomas K. (2017)
    A thoroughly physical view on reality and our common sense view on agency and free will seem to be in a direct conflict with each other: if everything that happens is determined by prior physical events, so too are all our actions and conscious decisions; you have no choice but to do what you are destined to do. Although this way of thinking has intuitive appeal, and a long history, it has recently began to gain critical attention. A number of arguments have been raised in defense of the idea that our will could be genuinely free even if the universe is governed by deterministic laws of physics. Determinism and free will have been argued to be compatible before, of course, but these recent arguments seem to take a new step in that they are relying on a more profound and concrete view on the central elements of the issue, the fundamental laws of physics and the nature of causal explanation in particular. The basic idea of this approach is reviewed in here, and it is shown how a careful analysis of physics and causal explanation can indeed enhance our understanding of the issue. Although it cannot be concluded that the problem of free will would now be completely solved ( or dissolved), it is clear that these recent developments can bring significant advancement to the debate.
  • Visala, Aku (2021)
    Some philosophers and scientists have argued that we humans cannot be held morally responsible for anything. Invoking results of the neurosciences and the cognitive sciences, they argue that humans lack the kind of conscious control and awareness required for moral responsibility. For theological ethics and Christian theology as a whole, moral responsibility is indispensable. I will begin by outlining some empirical results that are invoked in support of moral responsibility skepticism. I will, then, examine the subsequent discussion and the question why conscious awareness is central to moral responsibility. Consciousness contributes to morally relevant control over action in multiple ways. I will briefly examine some accounts of conscious control that are resistant to the skeptical challenge. Although the empirical results might lead us to revise the degree and range of conscious control, there seems to be enough of it to ground many everyday practices of responsibility. I will conclude the article with some theological reflections.
  • Pernu, Tuomas K.; Elzein, Nadine (2020)
    Since our moral and legal judgments are focused on our decisions and actions, one would expect information about the neural underpinnings of human decision-making and action-production to have a significant bearing on those judgments. However, despite the wealth of empirical data, and the public attention it has attracted in the past few decades, the results of neuroscientific research have had relatively little influence on legal practice. It is here argued that this is due, at least partly, to the discussion on the relationship of the neurosciences and law mixing up a number of separate issues that have different relevance on our moral and legal judgments. The approach here is hierarchical; more and less feasible ways in which neuroscientific data could inform such judgments are separated from each other. The neurosciences and other physical views on human behavior and decision-making do have the potential to have an impact on our legal reasoning. However, this happens in various different ways, and too often appeal to any neural data is assumed to be automatically relevant to shaping our moral and legal judgments. Our physicalist intuitions easily favor neural-level explanations to mental-level ones. But even if you were to subscribe to some reductionist variant of physicalism, it would not follow that all neural data should be automatically relevant to our moral and legal reasoning. However, the neurosciences can give us indirect evidence for reductive physicalism, which can then lead us to challenge the very idea of free will. Such a development can, ultimately, also have repercussions on law and legal practice.
  • Pernu, Tuomas K. (2017)
    The mental realm seems different to the physical realm; the mental is thought to be dependent on, yet distinct from the physical. But how, exactly, are the two realms supposed to be different, and what, exactly, creates the seemingly insurmountable juxtaposition between the mental and the physical? This review identifies and discusses five marks of the mental, features that set characteristically mental phenomena apart from the characteristically physical phenomena. These five marks (intentionality, consciousness, free will, teleology, and normativity) are not presented as a set of features that define mentality. Rather, each of them is something we seem to associate with phenomena we consider mental, and each of them seems to be in tension with the physical view of reality in its own particular way. It is thus suggested how there is no single mind-body problem, but a set of distinct but interconnected problems. Each of these separate problems is analyzed, and their differences, similarities and connections are identified. This provides a useful basis for future theoretical work on psychology and philosophy of mind, that until now has too often suffered from unclarities, inadequacies, and conflations.