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February 28, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

A critique of hard determinism. Do humans have free will based on neuroscience?

“The physics is impoverished–it knows nothing about predator-prey relations, it knows nothing about personal ambition, physics knows nothing about jealousy, physics knows nothing about purpose. The odd thing is if you go down to the physics levels you lose all you have at the higher level…you end up having to go to the higher level.”

In “Are we just the sum of our neurons?” a Stanford neuro-scientist Newsome makes the argument that they deal with different levels of understanding.

If I am constrained by my own brain, isn’t my freedom of choice an illusion? (loses persons, cells, emotions, responsibility. “The physics is impoverished–it knows nothing about predator-prey relations, it knows nothing about personal ambition, physics knows nothing about jealousy, physics knows nothing about purpose. The odd thing is if you go down to the physics levels you lose all you have at the higher level…you end up having to go to the higher level.” The total reductionists project–to say that its all physics–is not a useful project.)

Can we hold people responsible for their own behaviour? (“We have choice withing constraints–its constrained and mediated by neural activity.”)

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