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A Dialogue on Free Will and Science

Alfred R. Mele

Publication Date - September 2013

ISBN: 9780199329298

128 pages
5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

In Stock

A brief and intriguing dialogue exploring leading scientific challenges to free will


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.

New to this Edition

  • This is a first edition.

About the Author(s)

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.


"The most engaging introduction to scientific challenges to free will that I have seen."--Benjamin McMyler, Texas A&M University

"An up-to-the-minute discussion of a very hot topic by one of the foremost experts in the field."--Meghan Griffith, Davidson College

"No other book makes such a wide range of important psychological studies so readily accessible for students of free will."--Bruce Waller, Youngstown State University

"A philosophically sophisticated discussion of contemporary scientific issues relevant to free will, written in a clear and engaging style."--Joseph Campbell, Washington State University

Table of Contents

    1. Monday Afternoon
    What does "free will" mean?
    Three answers: regular, mid-grade, and premium
    2. Monday Night
    Regular free will
    Frankfurt-style stories
    The zygote argument
    Moral responsibility
    3. Tuesday Afternoon
    Mid-grade free will
    Deep openness
    Moral responsibility again
    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
    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
    Agent causation
    Regular and mid-grade free will again

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