Roskies, Adina L., and . Neuroscientific challenges to free will and responsibility

2006, Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10(9): 419-423.

Abstract: Recent developments in neuroscience raise the worry that understanding how brains cause behavior will undermine our views about free will and, consequently, about moral responsibility. The potential ethical consequences of such a result are sweeping. I provide three reasons to think that these worries seemingly inspired by neuroscience are misplaced. First, problems for common-sense notions of freedom exist independently of neuroscientific advances. Second, neuroscience is not in a position to undermine our intuitive notions. Third, recent empirical studies suggest that even if people do misconstrue neuroscientific results as relevant to our notion of freedom, our judgments of moral responsibility will remain largely unaffected. These considerations suggest that neuroethical concerns about challenges to our conception of freedom are misguided.

Comment: Roskies offers an overview of the debate, providing useful glossary of positions related to it together with a graph representing the relations between them. This can be particularly useful when explaining the differences between the metaphysical, epistemic and ethical claims made in this debate.