One of the major worries raised by the metaphysical position of “new materialism” is the implications for human freedom. The video clip “Reading Minds” documents the approach of new materialism, according to which every mental event is really just a brain event. Why, then, the concern about human freedom? In short, if every mental event is just a brain event, and every brain event is caused by a preceding brain event, it seems that every mental event might be determined; leaving little room for free choice. Indeed, findings of the sort depicted in the video clip “Neuroscience and Free will”—i.e., that scientists using brain imaging technology can predict our decisions, before we are even consciously aware of them!—only reinforce these worries. Despite these considerations, however, many philosophers still contend that we possess free will, i.e., the capacity to choose freely among alternatives.
Do you believe that we posses free will as defined above? On what basis (e.g., personal experience, theoretical considerations, etc.) do you hold your belief? In your opinion, does the position of new materialism pose a genuine threat to your view? Why or why not?
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