Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will
Murphy (Nancey), O'Connor (Timothy) & Ellis (George F.R.)
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BOOK ABSTRACT:

Publisher’s Book Description

  1. How is free will possible in the light of the physical and chemical underpinnings of brain activity and recent neurobiological experiments? How can the emergence of complexity in hierarchical systems such as the brain, based at the lower levels in physical interactions, lead to something like genuine free will?
  2. The nature of our understanding of free will in the light of present-day neuroscience is becoming increasingly important because of remarkable discoveries on the topic being made by neuroscientists at the present time, on the one hand, and its crucial importance for the way we view ourselves as human beings, on the other.
  3. A key tool in understanding how free will may arise in this context is the idea of downward causation in complex systems, happening coterminously with bottom up causation, to form an integral whole. Top-down causation is usually neglected, and is therefore emphasized in the other part of the book's title. The concept is explored in depth, as are the ethical and legal implications of our understanding of free will.
  4. This book arises out of a workshop held in California in April of 2007, which was chaired by Dr. Christof Koch. It was unusual in terms of the breadth of people involved: they included physicists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and theologians. This enabled the meeting, and hence the resulting book, to attain a rather broader perspective on the issue than is often attained at academic symposia.
  5. The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, Nancey Murphy, William Newsome, Timothy O'Connor, Sean A.. Spence, and Evan Thompson.

Table of Contents
    1. Nancey Murphy - Introduction and Overview (Pages 1-28)
  1. Physics, Emergence & Complex Systems
    1. Christof Koch - Free Will, Physics, Biology, and the Brain (Pages 31-52)
    2. William T. Newsome - Human Freedom “Emergence” (Pages 53-62)
    3. George F.R. Ellis - Top-Down Causation and the Human Brain (Pages 63-81)
    4. Alicia Juarrero - Top-Down Causation and Autonomy in Complex Systems (Pages 83-102)
    5. J.A. Scott Kelso & Emmanuelle Tognoli - Toward a Complementary Neuroscience: Metastable Coordination Dynamics of the Brain (Pages 103-124)
  2. Volition and Consciousness: Are They Illusions?
    1. Mark Hallett - Physiology of Volition (Pages 127-143)
    2. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore - How We Recognize Our Own Actions (Pages 145-151)
    3. Hakwan C. Lau - Volition and the Function of Consciousness (Pages 153-169)
  3. Broader Understandings of Volition and Consciousness
    1. Timothy O’Connor - Conscious Willing and the Emerging Sciences of Brain and Behavior (Pages 173-186)
    2. Evan Thompson - Contemplative Neuroscience as an Approach to Volitional Consciousness (Pages 187-197)
    3. Chris D. Frith - Free Will Top-Down Control in the Brain (Pages 199-209)
    4. Sean A. Spence - Thinking beyond the Bereitschaftspotential: Consciousness of Self and Others as a Necessary Condition for Change (Pages 211-223)
  4. Human implications of the Debate
    1. David Hodgson - Criminal Responsibility, Free Will, and Neuroscience (Pages 227-241)
    2. Dean Mobbs, Hakwan C. Lau, Owen D. Jones, Chris D. Frith - Law, Responsibility, and the Brain (Pages 243-260)
    3. Hans Küng - The Controversy over Brain Research (Pages 261-270)

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