background preloader

Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will?

The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless. Is free will an illusion? Some leading scientists think so. For instance, in 2002 the psychologist Daniel Wegner wrote, “It seems we are agents. It seems we cause what we do… It is sobering and ultimately accurate to call all this an illusion.” More recently, the neuroscientist Patrick Haggard declared, “We certainly don’t have free will. Many neuroscientists are employing a flawed notion of free will. Such proclamations make the news; after all, if free will is dead, then moral and legal responsibility may be close behind. Indeed, free will matters in part because it is a precondition for deserving blame for bad acts and deserving credit for achievements. Here, I’ll explain why neuroscience is not the death of free will and does not “wreak havoc on our sense of moral and legal responsibility,” extending a discussion begun in Gary Gutting’s recent Stone column. Leif Parsons

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/13/is-neuroscience-the-death-of-free-will/

Related:  Cognitive Plasticity

Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better If someone granted you one wish, what do you imagine you would want out of life that you haven’t gotten yet? For many people, it would be self-improvement and knowledge. Newcounter knowledge is the backbone of society’s progress. Great thinkers such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and others’ quests for knowledge have led society to many of the marvels we enjoy today. Your quest for knowledge doesn’t have to be as Earth-changing as Einstein’s, but it can be an important part of your life, leading to a new job, better pay, a new hobby, or simply knowledge for knowledge’s sake — whatever is important to you as an end goal. Life-changing knowledge does typically require advanced learning techniques.

Human Intelligence Declining, Controversial New Study Suggests By: Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer Published: 11/12/2012 12:34 PM EST on LiveScience Humans may be gradually losing intelligence, according to a new study. The study, published today (Nov. 12) in the journal Trends in Genetics, argues that humans lost the evolutionary pressure to be smart once we started living in dense agricultural settlements several thousand years ago. Biological Altruism 1. Altruism and the Levels of Selection The problem of altruism is intimately connected with questions about the level at which natural selection acts. If selection acts exclusively at the individual level, favouring some individual organisms over others, then it seems that altruism cannot evolve, for behaving altruistically is disadvantageous for the individual organism itself, by definition.

Home Page This wiki is a collaborative environment for exploring ways to become a better thinker. Topics that can be explored here include MemoryTechniques, MentalMath, CriticalThinking, BrainStorming, ShorthandSystems, NotebookSystems, and SmartDrugs. Other relevant topics are also welcome. Neuroscience Sheds New Light on Creativity - Rewiring the Creative Mind Close your eyes and visualize the sun setting over a beach. How detailed was your image? Did you envision a bland orb sinking below calm waters, or did you call up an image filled with activity -- palm trees swaying gently, waves lapping at your feet, perhaps a loved one holding your hand? Now imagine you're standing on the surface of Pluto.

World’s First Genetically Modified Babies ‘Created’ in US Anthony Gucciardi, ContributorActivist Post In a developing story, the Daily Mail is now reporting that the very first (admitted) group of genetically modified babies have been ‘created’ in the United States. The scientists involved reportedly announced the result on the night of June 27th, stating that 30 babies were born using genetic modification techniques. Furthermore, 2 of the babies tested were found to contain genes from a total of 3 different parents. The experiment also lasted over 3 years or more according to the researchers, which may be one of many. The ‘GM babies’ were born into women who had trouble conceiving their own children.

Altruism 'in-built' in humans Infants as young as 18 months show altruistic behaviour, suggesting humans have a natural tendency to be helpful, German researchers have discovered. In experiments reported in the journal Science, toddlers helped strangers complete tasks such as stacking books. Young chimps did the same, providing the first direct evidence of altruism in non-human primates. Altruism may have evolved six million years ago in the common ancestor of chimps and humans, the study suggests. Just rewards Scientists have long debated what leads people to "act out of the goodness of their hearts" by helping non-relatives regardless of any benefits for themselves. Eureka! Neural evidence for sudden insight A recent study provides intriguing information about the neural dynamics underlying behavioral changes associated with the development of new problem solving strategies. The research, published by the Cell Press in the May 13 issue of the journal Neuron, supports the idea of "a-ha" moments in the brain that are associated with sudden insight. Our daily lives are filled with changes that force us to abandon old behavioral strategies that are no longer advantageous and develop new, more appropriate responses.

Study finds psychopaths have brain abnormalities Updated Tue 8 May 2012, 8:05am AEST Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains. The researchers, based at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said the differences in psychopaths' brains separate them distinctly from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders (ASPD), and from healthy non-offenders. Interest in what goes on inside the heads of violent criminals has been sharpened by the trial of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian who massacred 77 people last July.

Related: