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My brain made me do it: The exclusion argument against free will, and what’s wrong with it

List, Christian and Menzies, Peter (2014) My brain made me do it: The exclusion argument against free will, and what’s wrong with it. [Preprint]

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Abstract

We offer a critical assessment of the “exclusion argument” against free will, which may be summarized by the slogan: “My brain made me do it, therefore I couldn't have been free”. While the exclusion argument has received much attention in debates about mental causation (“could my mental states ever cause my actions?”), it is seldom discussed in relation to free will. However, the argument informally underlies many neuroscientific discussions of free will, especially the claim that advances in neuroscience seriously challenge our belief in free will. We introduce two distinct versions of the argument, discuss several unsuccessful responses to it, and then present our preferred response. This involves showing that a key premise – the “exclusion principle” – is false under what we take to be the most natural account of causation in the context of agency: the difference-making account. We finally revisit the debate about neuroscience and free will.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
List, Christian
Menzies, Peter
Keywords: Free will, neuroscience, physicalism, exclusion argument, exclusion principle, causation as difference-making, interventionism
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Depositing User: Christian List
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2016 12:15
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2016 12:15
Item ID: 12412
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Determinism/Indeterminism
Specific Sciences > Biology > Neuroscience
Date: October 2014
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12412

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