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Neurophysiology and the Problem of Human Free Will: A Case of “Nihil Sub Sole Novum”?

Abstract

Over the last decade in Germany, a number of neuroscientists—and among them most prominently Wolf Singer—have claimed to be able to offer scientific evidence derived from neurophysiologic findings to conclusively negate the existence of human free will. In this paper, Singer’s position is examined according to its principal characteristics in order to answer the question whether it is a novel position as opposed to a position pertaining to one of the traditions of western philosophy and anthropology. Furthermore, we try to judge whether the neurobiological findings Singer and others use to justify their position are apt to satisfy the criteria for the presence of scientific evidence, i.e., if they are good reasons to believe that human will is unfree.

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Correspondence to Heinrich Weßling.

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Weßling, H. Neurophysiology and the Problem of Human Free Will: A Case of “Nihil Sub Sole Novum”?. Medicine Studies 4, 37–51 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12376-013-0083-6

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Keywords

  • Human free will
  • Determinism
  • Neurophysiology
  • Mind–body problem
  • Evidence