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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 1999

Metaphysics

Robert Kane
Pages 135-142

New Directions on Free Will

Libertarian or incompatibilist conceptions of free will (according to which free will is incompatible with determinism) have been under withering attack in the modern era of Western philosophy as obscure and unintelligible and have been dismissed as outdated by many twentieth century philosophers and scientists because of their supposed lack of fit with modern images of human beings in the natural and human sciences. In a recent book (The Significance of Free Will), I attempt to reconcile incompatibilist free will with new images of human beings emerging in the physical, biological, behavioral, cognitive, and neuro-sciences—avoiding the usual libertarian appeals to obscure or mysterious forms of agency or causation. In this paper, I extend that effort with special attention to the relation of libertarian free will to recent research on neural networks and cognition and to recent philosophical debates about freedom, control, rationality and responsibility.

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