Empirical Evidence against Free Will? A Case Study in Neuro-Mythology

Empirical claims about the easy experimental triggering of full-blown “actions” (including intentions and a feeling of control) by electrical/magnetic stimulation of the brain etc. are a part of the rhetoric for a naturalist, determinist account of freedom of will. While neither providing nor defending any particular theory of freedom, in this paper I challenge some of these empirical claims. I also analyse how a bold claim of “evidence” about triggering human actions emerged out of (almost) nothing – by a chain of mistranslations, over-interpretations, confabulations, and context-shifts.

WINFRIED LÖFFLER, PhD, JSD, MTh, is Associate Professor at the Department of Christian Philosophy, University of Innsbruck, Austria, and a regular visiting lecturer at philosophy schools in Italy, Croatia, and Vietnam. His main areas of research include: the philosophy of religion in the analytic traditions, the philosophy of science, and the thought of Bernard Bolzano (1781-1848). His publications include: Einführung in die Religionsphilosophie (3rd edition 2019), Einführung in die Logik (2008), and more than 140 papers in journals, handbooks and collected volumes. Prof. Löffler is currently an Academic Visitor at the Faculty of Theology and Religion and a BritInn Fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre.


This event is organised by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in collaboration with the Humane Philosophy Project, and the Britain-Innsbruck Academic Network (BritInn).