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'FREE:' Why science hasn't disproved free will

Philosopher Alfred Mele aims to set the record straight about the debate concerning free will

Oxford University Press USA

Is free will just an illusion? The question has fueled debates across disciplines ranging from philosophy to psychology and religion. The answer has major implications, and the stakes are high. To put it simply, if we are free to make our own decisions, we are accountable for what we do, and if we aren't free, we're off the hook. In FREE: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will philosopher Alfred R. Mele aims to set the record straight about the debate concerning free will.

Mele clearly lays out his opponents' experiments, and proceeds to debunk their supposed findings, one by one, explaining how the experiments don't provide the solid evidence for which they have been touted. There is powerful evidence that conscious decisions play an important role in our lives, and knowledge about situational influences allow people to respond to those influences freely rather than with blind obedience.

Topics for discussion include:

  • What is the evidence for the existence of free will?

  • What does the phrase "deep openness" refer to?

  • Is there hard evidence that sometimes, right up to the moment of decision, there really are different important possibilities for what will happen next in the brain?

  • Why is setting a reasonable bar for free will important?

  • What uses might free will have and why are those important?
  • Do you think free will exists?

Mele also explores the meaning and consequences of free will. What, exactly, does it mean to have free will--is it a state of our soul, or an undefinable openness to alternative decisions? Is it something natural and practical that is closely tied to moral responsibility? Since evidence suggests that denying the existence of free will actually encourages bad behavior, we have a duty to give it a fair chance.

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About the Author

Alfred R. Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of eight previous Oxford books, including Free Will and Luck (2006), Effective Intentions (2009), Backsliding (2012), and A Dialogue on Free Will and Science (2013). He also is the editor or co-editor of five OUP books, including The Philosophy of Action (1997) and Free Will and Consciousness: How Might They Work? (2010).

FREE: Why Science Hasn't Disproved Free Will by Alfred R. Mele will be published in hardcover by Oxford on October 1, 2014 (112 pages | $14.95 | Hardcover | ISBN: 9780199371624)

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