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Addiction and Responsibility$
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Jeffrey Poland and George Graham

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015509

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015509.001.0001

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Free Will as Recursive Self-Prediction: Does a Deterministic Mechanism Reduce Responsibility?

Free Will as Recursive Self-Prediction: Does a Deterministic Mechanism Reduce Responsibility?

Chapter:
(p.55) 3 Free Will as Recursive Self-Prediction: Does a Deterministic Mechanism Reduce Responsibility?
Source:
Addiction and Responsibility
Author(s):

George Ainslie

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262015509.003.0003

This chapter discusses the age-old dispute between those who argue for free will and those who argue for moral responsibility, and how advances in brain imaging make this dispute an incredibly significant one. It has been revealed through brain imaging that motivated behavior has a physical basis, defining chains of causality for emotions, choices, and even beliefs. In the chapter, the approach taken is one which is based on behavioral science rather than philosophy, and it is argued that the free will dispute is something which can be resolved by recent empirical findings. This dispute faces a fundamental dilemma, with one camp arguing that all events are fully caused by preexisting factors, and the other arguing that a person’s choices are not always caused by preexisting factors. The case for the truth of both propositions, and their seemingly ridiculous compatibility, is argued.

Keywords:   free will, moral responsibility, brain imaging, motivated behavior, behavioral science, free will dispute, preexisting factors

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