Moral Responsibility, Free Will and Neuroscience: A Pragmatism Perspective
Moral responsibility has been an important institution in the history of human sociocultural development. It requires a person to take responsibility for her past deeds so as to achieve retribution, change behavior, adjust interpersonal relationship and maintain social order. Traditionally, when we hold a person morally responsible for his act, we recognize the person is capable of distinguishing right from wrong and act according to his own free will. Recently, inspired by neuroscience, neuroscientists and philosophers began to deliberate the relationship between free will and moral responsibility. Focusing on causal responsibility and capacity responsibility in the framework of answerability and briefing criticisms on free will by determinism, epiphenomenalism, naturalism, rationality and situationism, this paper examines the question regarding the possibility of free will and how its answer might have impact on moral responsibility. Taking neuroscientific and philosophical debates on conscious will as an example, the paper argues that current neuroscience could not solve the problem of whether free will exists. Based on a combined perspective of neuroscience and pragmatism that adopts wide reflective equilibrium, the author concludes that the social meaning of free will could not be reduced to an understanding of brain activities. As an important institution mediating social lives, moral responsibility has to presume some form of human freedom, which is the Archimedean point of the discourses and actions maintaining the order for human beings to live together. Due to the sociocultural historicity of the free will discourse, neuroscience’s exploration of the phenomenon and conception of free will tends to be dynamic and yet inspiring. However, it has limitation in resolving the problem of whether free will exists.
|關鍵詞||自由意志、道德責任能力、神經科學、實用主義、free will、moral responsibility、neuroscience、pragmatism|