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The Future of Punishment$
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Thomas A. Nadelhoffer

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199779208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779208.001.0001

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Free Will, Science, and Punishment

Free Will, Science, and Punishment

Chapter:
(p.177) 8 Free Will, Science, and Punishment
Source:
The Future of Punishment
Author(s):

Alfred R. Mele

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199779208.003.0008

Scientific arguments for the nonexistence of free will use data to support empirical propositions that are then conjoined with a proposition about the meaning of “free will” to yield the conclusion that free will is an illusion. In Effective Intentions, the chapter argued that various empirical propositions put forward for this purpose are not warranted by the evidence offered to support them. It might be replied that the only empirical proposition needed in this connection is that substance dualism is false, because free will depends on the existence of immaterial minds or souls. This theoretical proposition about free will seems to have more adherents among present-day neuroscientists and biologists than among present-day philosophers. But the fact that one is a neuroscientist or biologist (or both) does not give one any special insight into what the expression “free will” means. Some may say that the same is true when one is a philosopher—or, more specifically, a philosopher who has written a lot about free will. So, using techniques of experimental philosophy, the chapter looks for evidence about whether mainstream use of “free will” makes substance dualism a necessary condition for having it.

Keywords:   free will, dualism, neuroscience, punishment, responsibility

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