What does Neuroscience Tell Us about Freedom of the Will?

Aerial photo of four pairs of hands using different handheld smart devices

Philosophers have long struggled with the problem of free will; more recently neuroscientists have claimed to be able to speak to this longstanding problem. I review some of the recent work in neuroscience that purports to bear on the problem of free will, and argue that although neuroscience can contribute to our understanding, it cannot resolve the problem of free will without recourse to philosophy.

Adina Roskies is a professor of philosophy at Dartmouth College. Her career spans both philosophy and the neurosciences. At the University of California, San Diego she concurrently earned an M.A. in Philosophy and an M.S. in Neuroscience, and received a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science in 1995. Adina went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship in cognitive neuroimaging at Washington University with Steven Petersen and Marcus Raichle, using both positron emission tomography (PET), and the then newly developing technique of functional MRI. Following her postdoc, Dr. Roskies became Senior Editor of the neuroscience journal Neuron, a position she held from 1997-1999.


Humanities & Science

Contact name: Kristine Krug

Contact email: kristine.krug@dpag.ox.ac.uk

Audience: Open to all