Understanding Complex Systems

Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will

Editors: Murphy, Nancey, Ellis, George, O'Connor, Timothy (Eds.)

  • All star cast on an extremely hot and important topic
  • Useful and important contribution to the growing interdisciplinary field of free will
  • How is free will possible in the light of the physical and chemical underpinnings of brain activity and recent neurobiological experiments?
  • Analysis of the current state of arguments over the meaning and legitimacy of concepts of emergence and downward causation for free will
  • Interdisciplinary discussion of leading experts from neuroscience, physics, physiology, neurobiology, psychology, philosophy, theology and law
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Hardcover $169.00
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  • ISBN 978-3-642-03204-2
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Softcover $169.00
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  • ISBN 978-3-642-26044-5
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About this book

How is free will possible in the light of the physical and chemical underpinnings of brain activity and recent neurobiological experiments? How can the emergence of complexity in hierarchical systems such as the brain, based at the lower levels in physical interactions, lead to something like genuine free will? The nature of our understanding of free will in the light of present-day neuroscience is becoming increasingly important because of remarkable discoveries on the topic being made by neuroscientists at the present time, on the one hand, and its crucial importance for the way we view ourselves as human beings, on the other. A key tool in understanding how free will may arise in this context is the idea of downward causation in complex systems, happening coterminously with bottom up causation, to form an integral whole. Top-down causation is usually neglected, and is therefore emphasized in the other part of the book’s title. The concept is explored in depth, as are the ethical and legal implications of our understanding of free will.

This book arises out of a workshop held in California in April of 2007, which was chaired by Dr. Christof Koch. It was unusual in terms of the breadth of people involved: they included physicists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, philosophers, and theologians. This enabled the meeting, and hence the resulting book, to attain a rather broader perspective on the issue than is often attained at academic symposia. The book includes contributions by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, George F. R. Ellis , Christopher D. Frith, Mark Hallett, David Hodgson, Owen D. Jones, Alicia Juarrero, J. A. Scott Kelso, Christof Koch, Hans Küng, Hakwan C. Lau, Dean Mobbs, Nancey Murphy, William Newsome, Timothy O’Connor, Sean A.. Spence, and Evan Thompson.

Table of contents (16 chapters)

  • Introduction and Overview

    Murphy, Nancey

    Pages 1-28

  • Free Will, Physics, Biology, and the Brain

    Koch, Christof

    Pages 31-52

  • Human Freedom “Emergence”

    Newsome, William T.

    Pages 53-62

  • Top-Down Causation and the Human Brain

    Ellis, George F. R.

    Pages 63-81

  • Top-Down Causation and Autonomy in Complex Systems

    Juarrero, Alicia

    Pages 83-102

Buy this book

eBook $129.00
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-642-03205-9
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $169.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-642-03204-2
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $169.00
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-642-26044-5
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Downward Causation and the Neurobiology of Free Will
Editors
  • Nancey Murphy
  • George Ellis
  • Timothy O'Connor
Series Title
Understanding Complex Systems
Copyright
2009
Publisher
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
Copyright Holder
Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg
eBook ISBN
978-3-642-03205-9
DOI
10.1007/978-3-642-03205-9
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-642-03204-2
Softcover ISBN
978-3-642-26044-5
Series ISSN
1860-0832
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
VIII, 291
Topics