Science & Cocktails #36 | Do you have free will ? + Lavender Witch (BE)

Les dates

  • Atelier 210
    1040 Bruxelles


Doors: 19:30 · Show: 20:30 · Price: 10€ (including 1 cocktail)

Speaker: Axel Cleeremans (ULB)

Our everyday life is paved with all sorts of decisions at various levels. Go jogging, or watch Eurovision with a family-sized packet of crisps? Hmm. Jogging or crisps? Jogging or crisps? Well, we've all been there. We may decide that what we really want to do is go to the gym - yet find ourselves reaching for that tasty sour cream and onion snack, followed by the inevitable feelings of guilt. Neuroscientists and psychologists are making tremendous strides in understanding our drives and motivations. Weakness of will - eating those crisps when we don't really want to - is one intriguing phenomenon. Another is addiction, whether it be to gambling, sex, social media, booze or cigarettes. There's a growing recognition of the importance of the subconscious in our decision-making. We may not even be aware of the influence that a surrounding smell or noise is having on our choices. And some neuroscientists have even claimed that by examining patterns in the brain, they can predict decisions that we will take six or seven seconds before we ourselves consciously choose to take them. Pushing this further, some scientists have defended the idea that virtually all human behavior is as far beyond our conscious control as the convulsions of a seizure, the division of cells or the beating of our hearts. This means accepting that a man who shoots into a crowd has no more control over his fate than a person who causes a fatal traffic accident while in the grip of a seizure.All this raises a question for the philosopher - what are the implications of advances in knowledge about human decision-making for our conception of free will? Will scientific progress undermine our sense that we have free will? What would be the implications for the notion of personal responsibility and in particular, our justice system? Will it eventually lead us to conclude that free will is an illusion? 


Lavender Witch (BE)