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Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Human agency and neural causes philosophy of action and the neuroscience of voluntary agency pdf 1. Runyan 2. Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan Release Date : 3. Human Agency and Neural Causes provides an analysis of our everyday thought about our conduct, and the neuroscience research concerning voluntary agency.
Runyan argues that our findings through neuroscience are consistent with what would be expected if we are, in fact, voluntary agents. You just clipped your first slide! Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later. Now customize the name of a clipboard to store your clips. Visibility Others can see my Clipboard. Cancel Save.
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And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. It is, thus, an act for which Cain is morally respon- sible. Ancient audiences had no problems recognising this, and neither do we.
However, over, at least, the past years or so there have been two divergent accounts of what distinguishes conduct—like the killing of Abel—as voluntary. According to the first account—which I will call the Aristotelian account since its roots can be traced back to views held by Aristotle—a voluntary action is, as a first approximation, the exercise of a two-way power. That is, it is an act one performs when one is able to act and able to not act on that occasion.
According to the second account—which I will call the volitional account—a voluntary action is, roughly, bodily motion that has a certain mental event in its causal history. In another version— what is called an agent-causal account—bodily motion is caused by the individual when they perform a certain mental act; the performance of which is a mental event. So according to an Aristotelian account, voluntarily acting is, roughly, a way of exercising a two-way power by one who is informed of certain things and not under duress; and, as we will see, this does not entail that a particular mental event is a component of voluntary action.
In neuropsychology, the volitional way of thinking about voluntary action is quickly becoming orthodoxy. In particular, it shows the importance of examining whether a particular mental event is a component of voluntary action. So examining what distinguishes voluntary conduct is an essential step in the scientific study of voluntary agency.
What is equally neglected is the more fundamental examina- tion of what it is to perform an act, voluntarily or otherwise, in the way we typically think we do. A key aim of the present work is to criticise this oversight, and argue for an Aristotelian account.ugmek.ru/includes/syl-idrossiclorochina-vs.php
Neuroscience of free will
What we will see is that, if we actually examine our everyday thought about our conduct, including our action, the pattern our conduct takes, and how we come by the concept of voluntary conduct, what distinguishes that which, within the course of our everyday affairs, we think of as voluntary conduct aligns with an Aristotelian account.
But—putting aside any inherent value in being correct—why does it matter whether a volitional or Aristotelian account is correct? Well, it may matter as much as it matters whether we are voluntary agents. If a volitional account of voluntary action is correct—if voluntary movement is, in general terms, bodily motion that has a certain men- tal event in its causal history—then, as many in the field argue, there are neuropsychological grounds for thinking that voluntary agency is an illusion; and that willing, or choosing, is epiphenomenal.
And if neural findings are taken to reveal that, in actuality, we do not wilfully act, or choose any of our conduct, this will have profound effects on the way we think about ourselves, and others. As a result, it will, also, have an effect on the way we live. Psychological studies show that a lack of confidence in our ability to personally control whether certain things happen12—and, similarly, that telling people that voluntary agency is an illusion13—tends to have a negative impact on various aspects of life, including self-esteem, per- formance on cognitive tasks and the prevalence of prosocial conduct.
Considering these findings, it seems virtually impossible to anticipate all the ways widespread acceptance of the view that voluntary agency is an illusion may negatively influence how, at least, some of us live. To illustrate, if a person comes to believe that what she wills, and chooses, makes no difference regarding what will happen she may begin to see herself, as well as others, as more akin to an object that is manipulated by various forces.
As a result, she may become less motivated, have lower self-worth, have lower expectations for herself, and be less concerned about how her conduct affects others. Based on the psychological studies mentioned in the above paragraph, these kinds of adverse effects would occur in a per- centage of cases as a result of widespread acceptance of the view that voluntary agency is an illusion, which would have a negative impact on society.
So—to answer the question about its relevance—it seems that the investigation as to whether neuropsychology, or neuroscience, shows voluntary agency, or free will,18 to be an illusion has practical, as well as theoretical, implications. I, further, maintain that our neural observations concerning voluntary agency can be plausibly interpreted in a way that is consistent with the idea we are voluntary agents in the Aristotelian sense I develop in this book.
Finally, I situate the idea that we are volun- tary agents within a broader, metaphysical framework. That is, I examine what is true about the world if we are, in fact, voluntary agents in the Aristotelian sense I develop here—a topic which should be of interest to those interested in assessing whether what we continue to find out about the world, ourselves included, is consistent with the idea that we are voluntary agents. As we will see, not only will this work be a tale of two ideas about voluntary agency, it will also be a tale of two ways of thinking about the world.
As a first approximation, according to the first way of thinking, all that we experience, and all that takes place, can exhaustively be explained in terms of subpersonal causes. By contrast, according to the second, some of what takes place can only be explained in terms of what people do, and what they cause. As it turns out, the analysis I offer here indicates that the first, reductive way of thinking, which currently informs the way many theorists interpret neural findings, is inconsistent with the idea we are voluntary agents.
However, this analysis also reveals reasons for being sceptical of this reductive way of thinking.
If this turns out to be true, it would indicate that this reductive way of thinking is unstable, and problematic; and that a shift is needed in the way neural observa- tions are interpreted. This observation, along with the observation that this reductive interpretation hinges on speculative metaphysical commitments, will lead me to explore an emergentist way of interpret- ing our neural observations. I will argue that, though controversial, an emergentist interpretation is a plausible way of interpreting our neural observations that accommodates the idea we are voluntary agents.
Before beginning the project at hand, in Section 1. Then, in Section 1. To accom- plish these objectives, I begin in Chapter 2 by laying out the problem Libet-style experimental findings are said to pose for the idea that we are voluntary agents. I, then, discuss current arguments for why these findings do not pose a problem for the idea we are voluntary agents. As we will see, within the current debate concerning whether Libet-style experiments provide evidence against the idea we are voluntary agents, there is an underlying volitional assumption that has largely gone unex- amined; roughly—the assumption is that voluntary movements have a certain mental event in their causal history.
Table of contents
This assumption has to do with the very nature of voluntary conduct—what distinguishes various forms of conduct readily thought of as voluntary within the course of everyday life—and whether Libet-style experiments are the right way to go about testing whether we are voluntary agents. After seeing that the argument that Libet-style findings bring the idea we are voluntary agents into doubt is predicated on a volitional assumption, I provide a critical examination of this assumption.
This examination results in both conceptual and empirical grounds for being sceptical about volitional accounts. And by calling these accounts into question, I raise the possibility that, rather than providing evidence against the idea we are voluntary agents, Libet-style findings merely provide further evidence against a certain account of voluntary agency.
In Chapter 3, I question the motivation for upholding volitional accounts, and make the case that questions surrounding volitional accounts point toward the need for a focused analysis of our everyday thought, and talk, about our action in order to accurately assess what Libet-style findings, or any neuroscientific findings, reveal about volun- tary agency. Von Wright is right: when drawing conclusions about such things, it is too often mistakenly taken for granted what an action is.
To come to a correct account of voluntary agency, we must examine the patterns our conduct takes, our thought, and talk, about what we do and accomplish, and what distinguishes conduct we readily think of as voluntary.