In A Dialogue on Free Will and Science, renowned philosopher Alfred Mele explores the experiments in neuroscience and psychology that have been said to pose the greatest challenges to free will. He uses an imagined dialogue among several characters to make what is typically a complex topic more accessible and engaging for students. Guided by the question "How much power do these scientific challenges have?", the characters first consider what having free will means and then react to well-known experiments that question its existence, including work by Libet and Milgram and the bystander, dime, and Stanford prison experiments. Their discussions show how useful philosophical methods can be in assessing and interpreting scientific findings, thereby revealing certain weaknesses in these scientific challenges. Ideal for courses in free will, introduction to philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science, A Dialogue on Free Will and Science encourages students to form their own opinions on the validity and strength of the major scientific challenges to free will.
Alfred R. Mele has been the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University since 2000. He is the author or coeditor of several books including Backsliding: Understanding Weakness of Will (2012), Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? (2010), Effective Intentions: The Power of Conscious Will (2009), and Free Will and Luck (2006), all published by Oxford University Press.
Preface ; 1. Monday Afternoon ; What does "free will" mean? ; Three answers: regular, mid-grade, and premium ; 2. Monday Night ; Regular free will ; Determinism ; Frankfurt-style stories ; The zygote argument ; Moral responsibility ; 3. Tuesday Afternoon ; Mid-grade free will ; Deep openness ; Moral responsibility again ; Luck ; Premium free will ; A survey ; 4. Tuesday Night ; Libet's neuroscience experiments ; 5. Wednesday Afternoon ; An fMRI experiment ; Buridan's ass ; A depth electrode experiment ; Consciousness at work ; Ramachandran's thought experiment ; 6. Wednesday Night ; Gazzaniga on free will ; Nylon stocking experiment ; Dime experiment ; Bystander experiment ; Good Samaritan experiment ; 7. Thursday Afternoon ; Milgram's experiments and free will ; Bystander experiment and free will ; Dime experiment and free will ; Stanford prison experiment and free will ; 8. Thursday Night ; Wegner on free will ; Implementation intentions and consciousness in action ; 9. Friday Afternoon ; Scientific evidence and regular free will ; Scientific evidence and mid-grade free will ; 10. Friday Night ; Scientific evidence and premium free will ; Souls ; Agent causation ; Regular and mid-grade free will again ; Sources ; Glossary ; Index