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Free Will and the Brain
Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives


Walter Glannon, Georg Northoff, Grant Gillett, Matthis Synofzik, Gottfried Vosgerau, Axel Lindner, Sanneke de Haan, Erik Rietveld, Damiaan Denys, Farah Focquaert, Andrea L. Glenn, Adrian Raine, Gerben Meynen, Wayne Hall, Adrian Carter, Nicole A. Vincent, Nir Lipsman, Andres M. Lozano, Maartje Schermer, Steven E. Hyman, Stephen J. Morse
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  • Date Published: March 2018
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108449304

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About the Authors
  • Neuroscientific evidence has educated us in the ways in which the brain mediates our thought and behavior and, therefore, forced us to critically examine how we conceive of free will. This volume, featuring contributions from an international and interdisciplinary group of distinguished researchers and scholars, explores how our increasing knowledge of the brain can elucidate the concept of the will and whether or to what extent it is free. It also examines how brain science can inform our normative judgments of moral and criminal responsibility for our actions. Some chapters point out the different respects in which mental disorders can compromise the will and others show how different forms of neuromodulation can reveal the neural underpinning of the mental capacities associated with the will and can restore or enhance them when they are impaired.

    • Shows how cognitive and clinical neuroscience can elucidate the concept of free will, informing readers of the brain-mind relation and how it mediates human thought and behavior
    • Offers a distinctive interdisciplinary approach to free will, including neuroscience, philosophy, cognitive psychology and law
    • Contributions from both distinguished neuroscientists and philosophers provides a unique perspective from which to examine questions about how brain function enables and how brain dysfunction disables the will
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'If ever a subject needed multi-author perspectives, it is this one. Free Will and the Brain fulfils a crucial need by bringing together the expertise of philosophers, psychiatrists, neuroscientists and legal experts. It deals with most aspects of this vast subject, but is particularly strong on brain disorders that disrupt free will and their implications for legal decisions. I strongly recommend it!' Peter Clarke, neuroscientist and former Associate Professor, University of Lausanne

    'Recent developments in neuroscience, drawing on findings from brain-imaging experiments and the like, have prompted exaggerated and philosophically naïve claims about the 'illusory' character of free will, and have been met with equally ill-conceived criticisms from some scientifically uninformed philosophers. This volume promises to be a valuable corrective to such fruitless debates and a genuine meeting of minds.' Jonathan Lowe, former Professor of Philosophy and Director of Postgraduate Studies, Durham University

    'The rapidly accumulating insights into the functions and mechanisms of the brain have rekindled clinical, legal and philosophical interest in the concept of 'free will'. Philosopher Walter Glannon has assembled an expert international team of scientists, clinicians, philosophers and other scholars who dig deeply into the questions of if, and how, neuroscience changes our understanding of free will. Glannon's insightful introduction provides an overview of breadth and substantive depth. His contributors provide the latest and best thinking about this very complex problem.' John Z. Sadler, Daniel W. Foster, M.D. Professor of Medical Ethics, Southwestern Medical Center, University of Texas

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108449304
    • length: 307 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • contains: 2 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction:
    1. Free will in light of neuroscience Walter Glannon
    Part II. Conceptual Issues:
    2. Is free will an observer-based concept rather than a brain-based one? A critical neuroepistemological account Georg Northoff
    3. Evolution, dissolution and the neuroscience of the will Grant Gillett
    4. The experience of free will and the experience of agency: an error-prone, reconstructive process Matthis Synofzik, Gottfried Vosgerau and Axel Lindner
    Part III. Mental Capacities and Disorders of the Will:
    5. Being free by losing control: what obsessive-compulsive disorder can tell us about free will Sanneke de Haan, Erik Rietveld and Damiaan Denys
    6. Psychopathy and free will from a philosophical and cognitive neuroscience perspective Farah Focquaert, Andrea L. Glenn and Adrian Raine
    7. How mental disorders can compromise the will Gerben Meynen
    8. Are addicted individuals responsible for their behavior? Wayne Hall and Adrian Carter
    9. Assessment and modification of free will via scientific techniques: two challenges Nicole A. Vincent
    Part IV. Neural Circuitry and Modification of the Will:
    10. Implications of functional neurosurgery and deep-brain stimulation for free will and decision-making Nir Lipsman and Andres M. Lozano
    11. Reducing, restoring, or enhancing autonomy with neuromodulation techniques Maartje Schermer
    Part V. Legal Implications of Neuroscience:
    12. Neurobiology collides with moral and criminal responsibility: the result is double vision Steven E. Hyman
    13. Neuroscience, free will and criminal responsibility Stephen J. Morse.

  • Editor

    Walter Glannon, University of Calgary
    Walter Glannon is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. His research interests are primarily in the areas of bioethics and neuroethics, and he has published on free will and moral and criminal responsibility, with a focus on how cognitive and clinical neuroscience has influenced how we conceive of and assess these concepts and associated practices. His publications include Brain, Body and Mind: Neuroethics with a Human Face (2011), Bioethics and the Brain (2007) and Biomedical Ethics (2005). In 2010 he was the recipient of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for the project 'Diminishing and Enhancing Free Will'. Free Will and the Brain is the product of this project.


    Walter Glannon, Georg Northoff, Grant Gillett, Matthis Synofzik, Gottfried Vosgerau, Axel Lindner, Sanneke de Haan, Erik Rietveld, Damiaan Denys, Farah Focquaert, Andrea L. Glenn, Adrian Raine, Gerben Meynen, Wayne Hall, Adrian Carter, Nicole A. Vincent, Nir Lipsman, Andres M. Lozano, Maartje Schermer, Steven E. Hyman, Stephen J. Morse

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