Is free will an observer-based concept rather than a brain-based one? A critical neuroepistemological account: Free Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

How are the brain and our observation of it in neuroscientific investigation related to each other? I here distinguish between brain-based and observer-based concepts. Brain-based concepts mean that they are very much in accordance with the way the brain functions and processes neural activity independent of our observation of it. In contrast, observer-based concepts refer to the dependence of our observations on the observer and his or her particular experimental (and technological and other) requirements. Since in observer-based concepts the observer intrudes into the observations and ultimately into the brain itself, I also speak of ‘observer-related intrusions’. I distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic observer-related intrusions: extrinsic observer-related intrusions can in principle be avoided and minimized while intrinsic ones cannot in principle be overcome. This is so because they concern, as I assume, intrinsic design features of the brain, and do therefore define the brain as brain. I conclude that the intrinsic observer-related intrusions pose ‘neuro-experimental and neuroepistemological constraints’ on our possible knowledge of the brain. Extrinsic observer-related intrusions pose methodological fallacies that are to be avoided, as, for instance, the projection of the concept of free will onto the brain. © Cambridge University Press 2015.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFree Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages27-43
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9781139565820 (ISBN); 9781107036031 (ISBN)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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Observer
Free Will
Intrusion
Intrinsic
Extrinsic
Fallacies

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Is free will an observer-based concept rather than a brain-based one? A critical neuroepistemological account : Free Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives. / Northoff, Georg Franz Josef.

Free Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives. Cambridge University Press, 2015. p. 27-43.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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abstract = "How are the brain and our observation of it in neuroscientific investigation related to each other? I here distinguish between brain-based and observer-based concepts. Brain-based concepts mean that they are very much in accordance with the way the brain functions and processes neural activity independent of our observation of it. In contrast, observer-based concepts refer to the dependence of our observations on the observer and his or her particular experimental (and technological and other) requirements. Since in observer-based concepts the observer intrudes into the observations and ultimately into the brain itself, I also speak of ‘observer-related intrusions’. I distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic observer-related intrusions: extrinsic observer-related intrusions can in principle be avoided and minimized while intrinsic ones cannot in principle be overcome. This is so because they concern, as I assume, intrinsic design features of the brain, and do therefore define the brain as brain. I conclude that the intrinsic observer-related intrusions pose ‘neuro-experimental and neuroepistemological constraints’ on our possible knowledge of the brain. Extrinsic observer-related intrusions pose methodological fallacies that are to be avoided, as, for instance, the projection of the concept of free will onto the brain. {\circledC} Cambridge University Press 2015.",
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note = "Export Date: 11 May 2016 Correspondence Address: Northoff, G.; Canada Research Chair for Mind, Brain Imaging and Neuroethics, University of Ottawa Institute of Mental Health ResearchCanada References: Buszaki, G., (2006) Rhythms of the Brain, , New York: Oxford University Press; Farah, M., Neuroethics: The practical and the philosophical (2005) Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, pp. 34-40; Fried, I., Mukamel, R., Kreiman, G., Internally generated preactivation of single neurons on human medial frontal cortex predicts volition (2011) Neuron, 69, pp. 548-562; Haggard, P., Conscious intention and motor cognition (2005) Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, pp. 290-295; Haggard, P., Human volition: Towards a neuroscience of will (2008) Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9, pp. 934-946; Haynes, J.-D., Beyond Libet: Long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals (2010) Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin Libet, 8. , W. Sinnott-Armstrong and L. Nadel (eds.), New York: Oxford University Press; Haynes, J.-D., Sakai, K., Rees, G., Gilbert, S., Frith, C., Passinghuam, R., Reading hidden intentions in the human brain (2007) Current Biology, 17, pp. 323-328; Libet, B., Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action (1985) Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8, pp. 529-566; Northoff, G., (2011) Neuropsychoanalysis in Practice: Brain, Self and Objects, , New York: Oxford University Press; Northoff, G., Immanuel Kant’s mind and the brain’s resting state (2012) Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 16 (July), pp. 356-359; Northoff, G., (2014) Unlocking the Brain. Vol. I: Coding, , Oxford University Press; Northoff, G., (2014) Unlocking the Brain. Vol. II: Consciousness, , Oxford University Press; Roskies, A., Neuroimaging and inferential distance (2008) Neuroethics, 1 (1), pp. 19-30; Spence, S., (2009) The Actor’s Brain: Exploring the Cognitive Neuroscience of Free Will, , Oxford University Press; Walter, H., (2001) Neurophilosophy of Free Will: From Libertarian Illusions to a Concept of Natural Autonomy, , trans. C. Klohr. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press",
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BT - Free Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives

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