Agency as a Biological-Behavioral Construct: An Approach to the Problem of Determinism
The Bar-Hillel Colloquium for the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science - 42nd Annual Series 2022-2023
Thursday | 04.05.23 | 14:00
Lecture by Prof. Catherine Wilson | University of York
At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Levy Building, Hall 324
Many 18th century philosophers facing a “Newtonian” universe or a world of animal machines became worried about determinism and its consequences for moral and legal culpability. The problem continues to perturb us, since we cannot even imagine an account of free will consistent with the scientific understanding of how the world works. In this talk, I draw on recent research on agency, volition and decision-making in animals, including humans, to argue that free will is experienced by organisms and ascribed to them for good reason, though we cannot say what free will physically or metaphysically is. The problem of assigning culpability is not solved thereby. But it is illuminated by understanding both the importance of negative sanctioning in our specifically human form of social life and the ways in which our inbuilt tendencies to moral disapproval and moral aggression can misfire.
Academic director: Dr. Ori Belkind, Tel Aviv University