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January 22, 2015
Does free will exist? The question has fueled debate among philosophers, psychologists, and theologians. A popular argument among neuroscientists and social psychologists is that free will is illusory—that our words and actions arise not from rational choice, but from unconscious predispositions and social conditioning. But according to philosopher Alfred Mele, the case against free will actually leaves much room for doubt. In Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will, Mele examined the major experiments that free will deniers cite, and explained how they don’t provide the solid evidence for which they have been touted. Mele argued, instead, that conscious decisions play an important role in our lives, and knowledge about situational influences can allow people to respond to those influences rationally rather than with blind obedience. Mele’s clear-eyed exploration of the meaning and ramifications of free will, particularly on our moral and political decision-making, made this an essential American Conversation.
This Hauenstein Center event was supported by the GVSU Department of Philosophy.
To learn more about Dr. Mele’s work and its implications for philosophy, neuroscience, politics, and ethics, please follow these links: