New Research Sheds Light on Free Will

Posted 28 Dec 2006 at 20:00 UTC by steve Share This

A recent article in the Economist discusses the implications of the latest neurological research on behavior and how that impacts traditional ideas about free will. The article highlights a case in which a brain tumor produced specific paedophilic behaviors. The tumor was removed and the patient returned to normal. Later the tumor regrew and the paedophilic behavior recurred. A companion article brings up the well know case of Phineas Gage, whose behavioral changes were caused by an iron bar through the head. The article suggests that "science will shrink the space in which free will can operate by slowly exposing the mechanism of decision making". Another possibility is that we've never really understood the nature of free will very well in the past and the new research is simply improving our understanding. In that vein, Daniel C. Dennett's book Freedom Evolves is an interesting read on how one can have a coherent view of free will in a deterministic Universe.

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