The belief in one’s own free will is at the very heart of our self-conception as responsible persons. In philosophy, the debate about free will has focused on the question of whether or not having free will is compatible with causal determinism. This problem has been discussed extensively, and the first part of this course provides an overview of the main positions and arguments in this debate. In the empirical sciences, the mainstream opinion was for a long time that notions such as free will and consciousness are beyond the reach of rigorous science. This has changed over the past few decades. Free will and consciousness are now studied in psychology, neuroscience, and the social sciences. The second part of this course provides an introduction to the empirical science of free will, and we will address the question of whether or not the empirical sciences are capable, in principle, of making any real progress in solving the philosophical problem of free will.
Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.
Mode of instruction
Assessment is primarily based on research papers.
Active participation and class-presentations may have a bearing on the final mark.
There is no textbook and no required advance reading. The list of seminar readings will be made available at the beginning of the course.
Recommended advance readings:
Kane, R. (2005) A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will . Oxford UP.
Pockett, S. et al. (2006) Does Consciousness Cause Behavior? MIT Press.
Please register for this course on uSis.
Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.
Specialisation (MA in Philosophy): Ethics and Politics