Do we have free will? Or is free will a systematic illusion? How free are we (if we are so, at least to some extent)? Do different people have different levels of self-control, freedom and responsibility? Do different actions have different degrees of authorship? Does decision neuroscience weaken, strengthen or, merely, reaffirm our current moral and legal views regarding agency, responsibility, liability, imputability and blameworthiness? Do planning, rationality, intentions and emotions play a causal role in our decision-making processes? To which (or what) extent (if any) is free will a still valid starting point, in view of our state-of-the-art in neuroscience? Is such an idea, taken (by many) as foundational to the western civilization since the advent of monotheistic religions, still meaningful? Is such a concept, present in the history of philosophy as a classical conundrum, still a viable premise?
Neuroscience is one of the research areas with greatest progress in recent times on a world scale. However, there is still a lack of understanding of the ethical, moral and legal implications of its discoveries, as well as of the scope of epistemic validity of its findings. Philosophy of neuroscience has the key role of addressing foundational considerations of the aforementioned issues, bringing ethical and epistemic criteria into debate.
Beyond the advances in the academic production of philosophy of neuroscience, developing a better understanding of specific subjects as free will, agency and their ethical implications brings about also positive practical repercussions as, for example: creation of public and private policies in legal, economic and medical areas. It yields updates in the debate on the rationality of action from a more realistic point of view, aware of the potentialities and limitations of the decision-making processes involved in human action. Foundational concepts in law, such as responsibility, imputability, etc. can be better understood in light of the debates here proposed. Equally, important notions applied in economics, such as ‘fast and frugal’ or rational and optimal choices, hyperbolic vs exponential discounts, depend on the understanding of the issues which we investigate in this meeting.
We aim for the event to be a turning point in the philosophical and scientific production in the area in Brazil and Latin America in general. Not only more established researchers will benefit from this process of exchange of knowledge and collaboration; likewise, young researchers will have the opportunity to be part of an international research network.