…I worry that everything I’ve been saying so far presupposes a philosophically problematic – I won’t say naïve — concept of freedom – what philosophers sometimes call contra-causal freedom. That’s a kind of absolute and total freedom that leaves our actions entirely and exclusively up to the will. I admit we don’t freedom in that sense. And maybe neuroscience can help us to see that. But I strongly doubt that either common sense or our legal system presupposes that we have freedom in that sense. And if we don’t there is no real conflict between our criminal justice system and what neuroscience is telling us about how the brain causes behavior. Is there?
Ken Taylor Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. [via]
Slap a bow on it. People forget about the lesser levels of culpability under the law, where you can still be punished for not making a “free, conscious and deliberate choice”, e.g., negligence. Putting those examples in the mix are as important, if not more so, than it is for neuroscience to address culpability and what’s considered free decisions under the law, me thinks.