Brains, Persons, and Society *** ABSTRACTS
Cervelli, Persone e Società ***ABSTRACTS
analysis vs. empirical investigations: the
case of the free will issue
one of the most crucial
metaphilosophical debates concerns the relevance of the scientific
philosophical investigations. In general, three stances can be adopted
regard to this issue:
1) Scientific naturalism, which
tends to reduce philosophy to science
(more precisely, to the natural sciences -- if not to physics alone).
and Daniel Dennett have defended this stance: the latter, for example,
wrote that philosophy has “to clarify and unify the often warring
[of the sciences] into a single vision of the universe”.
Liberal or moderate naturalism, whose advocate tend
generally to maintain
that the possible philosophical relevance of (some) scientific results
imply that philosophy is not autonomous from the sciences. Today Hilary
and John Dupré hold this view (the former, for example, recently
wrote that he
wanted to defend “a modest nonmetaphysical [i.e., non-scientistic]
squarely in touch with the results of science”).
Antinaturalism, which tends to deny any philosophical
relevance to the
acquisitions of the natural sciences. Many
of the advocates of this stance are influenced by Wittgestein’s views,
as when he wrote, for example, that, as philosophers, " ... we are not
doing natural science, nor yet natural history".
contemporary debate on free will
is a case in which these three stances compete very clearly, and this
gives us a good opportunity to evaluate their respective merits and
In general, three views (corresponding to the three mentioned
stances) are held with regard to the roles that philosophy and science
respectively play in the free will discussion:
according to which the free will
problem is empirical in character, and in principle it can be solved by
empirical science alone (Benjamin Libet and D.M. Wegner have arguably
using this approach);
The interactionist view, according
to which the free will
problem has to be treated by both philosophy and empirical science
libertarians and some compatibilists belong to this group);
The philosophical isolationist view, according to
which the free
will problem is a conceptual problem that has to be treated a priori.
means that this problem pertains entirely to philosophical conceptual
(Roderick Chisholm and P.F. Strawson were two of the most influential
of this view).
In this paper, I will argue that
interactionist view is the correct one, while scientific isolationism
obviously wrong and philosophical isolationism is more subtly wrong.
result shouls suggest, in my opinion, that liberal naturalism may well
most promising metaphilosophical view.