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Free Will and Modern Science$
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Richard Swinburne

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264898

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264898.001.0001

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On determinacy or its absence in the brain

On determinacy or its absence in the brain

(p.84) 5 On determinacy or its absence in the brain
Free Will and Modern Science



British Academy

This chapter analyzes the different ways to describe brain behaviour with the goal to provide a basis for an informed discussion of the nature of decisions and actions that humans perform in their lives. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 outlines a number of concepts exhibiting how many subtle details and distinctions lie behind the broad notions of determinacy and stochasticity. These details are necessary for a discussion, in Section 3, of particular aspects relevant for the characterization of brain states and their dynamics. The descriptions of brain behaviour currently provided by neuroscience depend on the level and context of the descriptions. There is no clear-cut evidence for ultimately determinate or ultimately stochastic brain behaviour. As a consequence, there is no solid neurobiological basis to argue either in favour of or against any fundamental determination or openness of human decisions and actions.

Keywords:   brain behaviour, human decisions, human actions, determinacy, stochasticity, brain states

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