Workshop Free Will and Consciousness
November 19th and 20th, 2015
In recent years, neuroscientific and (social) psychological experimentation have played a significant role in discussions on free will. Several experiments seem to show that (many of) our actions and decisions are caused or influenced by unconscious processes. In general, the focus of the discussion has been on whether these experiments show that conscious processes are never causally efficacious and with that, whether science shows that free will does not exist or is an illusion.
An important question that has been addressed less often is what the relationship between free will and conscious processes is. In the workshop, the aim is to further elaborate on this relationship in the light of recent studies in neuroscience and psychology. With that, we hope to enrich the discussion and exchange between science and philosophy on the topic of free will. Possible research questions include but are not limited to:
- If conscious intentions or other conscious processes are important for free will, how should we understand this (causal) relationship?
- What is the relationship between physical / neural causes and unconscious mental causes of behavior / action and free will? (How) Can we distinguish between both kinds of causes? How is this distinction relevant in relation to free will?
- Do we need to be conscious of (all) the causes of and/or reasons for our intentions, decisions, or actions in order for them to be free? Does it matter whether we can become conscious of them or whether they are inaccessible to consciousness?
- If we accept that unconsciously caused actions and/or decisions can be free, how should we distinguish between free and unfree action?
- What does it mean for actions or decisions to originate from ‘within the agent’ or be ‘up to me’ and how is this related to conscious, mental, and/or bodily processes?
- Prof. Dr. Neil Levy (Oxford University, University of Melbourne)
- Prof. Dr. Adina Roskies (Dartmouth College)