Paperback | $18.00 Short | £30.95 | ISBN: 9780262517249 | 216 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 2012
Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem
In this largely antimetaphysical treatment of free will and determinism, Mark Balaguer argues that the philosophical problem of free will boils down to an open scientific question about the causal histories of certain kinds of neural events. In the course of his argument, Balaguer provides a naturalistic defense of the libertarian view of free will.
Balaguer claims that the compatibilism debate (the question of whether free will is compatible with determinism) is essentially irrelevant to metaphysical questions about the nature of human freedom, most notably "Do humans have free will?" Likewise, the questions "What is free will?" and "Which kinds of freedom are required for moral responsibility?" are argued to be irrelevant to substantive questions about the metaphysics of human free will. The metaphysical component of the problem of free will, Balaguer argues, essentially boils down to the question of whether humans possess libertarian free will. Furthermore, he argues that, contrary to the traditional wisdom, the libertarian question reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In other words, Balaguer argues that the right kind of indeterminacy would bring with it all of the other requirements for libertarian free will. Finally, he argues that because there is no good evidence as to whether or not the relevant neural events are undetermined in the way that's required, the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.
A Bradford Book
About the Author
Mark Balaguer is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at California State University, Los Angeles. He is the author of Platonism and Anti-Platonism in Mathematics and Free Will as an Open Scientific Question (MIT Press).