30-31 Aug 2017 Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium)

Free Will, Language, and Neurosciences

We invite paper proposals for a two-day colloquium being held at the Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve) on the 30th and 31st of August 2017. This colloquium is being organised as part of a five-year research project entitled “Free Will and Causality,” and we intend to publish the best papers of the colloquium in a collection to come out in 2018. The project has as its aim the resolution of questions about the causal efficacy of the human will in light of neuroscientific knowledge about the determinants and mechanisms of action. We suggest that free will cannot be understood using a purely reductionist approach and that the combinatorial possibilities offered by language and linguaform structures play a significant role in offering alternatives leading to free decisions. With this orientation in mind, we are interested in papers that address the following or related questions, from the perspective of philosophy, neuroscience, law, and allied disciplines:

  • What can neuroscientific experiment contribute to traditional philosophical debates on free will?

  • Are there extant neuroscientific results that shed doubt on the notion that we are in control of—and therefore responsible for—our actions?

  • What neuropsychological abilities are required for an agent to exercise freely-willed action?

  • Does the appearance of free will as a philosophical problem have roots in our ordinary linguistic practices regarding the concepts of free will and determinism? What are these practices?

  • Is the ability to use language necessary for rational deliberation?

  • How is the conceptual analysis of action related to the neuroscientific study of volition?

  • What is the relationship between consciousness and the kind of control that is required for moral responsibility?

  • How do mental states produce action? Can mental states be causally efficacious in this way?

Those interested should submit an abstract of no more than 1000 words by the 3rd of March using the option on the left-hand side of this page. We will inform applicants of the result by the 1st of April 2017.


Invited speakers:

Alfred Mele (Florida State University)

Eddy Nahmias (Georgia State University)

Peter Ulrich Tse (Dartmouth College)


Organising Committee:

Bernard Feltz (Université catholique de Louvain)

Dominique Lambert (Université de Namur; Royal Academy of Belgium)

Marcus Missal (Université catholique de Louvain)

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