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Free will and self-control: challenges of neuroscience

Grant number: 13/03234-2
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2013
Effective date (End): February 28, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal researcher:Jonas Gonçalves Coelho
Grantee:Jonas Gonçalves Coelho
Host: Patricia Smith Churchland
Home Institution: Faculdade de Arquitetura, Artes e Comunicação (FAAC). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Bauru. Bauru , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), United States  


Interested in Philosophy of Mind and motivated by contemporary developments in Neuroscience, my purpose is to study the problems of free will and moral responsibility considering the question of self-control under the approach of neuroscientific studies related to decision-making process and brain lesions. Following Patricia Churchland, who defends that the study of self-control under a neuroscientific perspective should be considered in a contemporary treatment of the problems of free will and moral responsibility, and the studies in Psychology and Neuroscience that relate difficulties of self-control to personal and social problems in life, I think that it is important to understand the constitutive elements of self-control, in their biological, psychological and social aspects. Another point that interests me refers to the simplification of the problem of self-control in terms of an opposition between reason and emotions. About this point, I will follow the idea defended by Patricia Churchland, according to which that simple opposition is very superficial, insofar as it does not consider the frequent relation of dependency between reason and emotions, especially moral emotions. My general purpose is to understand how the workings of a disrupted moral brain help to make explicit the aspects that are essential for constructing a normal moral brain, which involves not just the role of the biological and physical aspects, but also how the cultural environment operates on that construction, that is, the difficult problem of how thoughts, being the result of brain activity, could act causally on the brain. (AU)

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