Seminars and Panels

Does Neuroscience Undermine Responsibility?

Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Nov 15, 2013
3:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M.
232 Philip G. Hoffman Hall

Many smart people think that recent advances in neuroscience show that nobody ever really has free will or moral responsibility. Equally smart opponents think that neuroscience is irrelevant to moral and legal judgments of responsibility. These debates continue partly because both sides conflate distinct issues about causes vs. effects of our wills. After these confusions are removed, we will be able to see that neuroscience does not undermine free will or responsibility in general but still does have important implications in certain particular cases.

About Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Philosophy Department and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He is also core faculty in the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Walter publishes widely in normative moral theory, meta-ethics, applied ethics, moral psychology and neuroscience, philosophy of law, epistemology, and philosophy of religion. His current research focuses on empirical moral psychology and neuroscience (including experiments on psychopaths) and on the implications of neuroscience for the legal system and for free will and moral responsibility (including the responsibility of addicts).

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Audience Feedback

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Selective Comments

"I really liked the organization and background the speaker gave before presenting the applications in hypothetical and real scenarios. I liked the layman's terms used for audience members who are unfamiliar with the subject."

"I'm very grateful for opportunities to attend seminars like these."

"Have more interesting and charasmatic individuals like this and the last speaker. This will show one who and what one can be/do with a Ph.D."