Freedom of Will and Criminal Law as Variables of Controversy between Modern Neuro Science and Philosophy (Willensfreiheit und Strafrecht im Spannungsfeld zwischen Moderner Neurowissenschaft und Philosophie)

61 Pages Posted: 12 May 2010 Last revised: 17 May 2010

Björn Schulz

University of Goettingen (Gottingen)

Abstract

This text goes further into the fundamental questions, i.e. how far feelings, thinking and decisions are exclusively determined by the causal rules and neuronal processes, whether there is still a possibility for subjectivity and free will, and what impact the progress of modern brain research has on our image of humanity, particularly on the judgement of criminals. Generally, the text tries to evaluate this subject from a neutral and objective position. The first part, on the one hand, gives a review of cognition of the neurosciences and definitions of terms such as “free will” that the medical research provides. On the other hand, it describes theories proposed in philosophy and criminal law, e.g. those regarding free will and the responsibility of the individual. In the second part, controversial issues resulting from the above are emphasized while perspectives and possible consequences for the integration of these polar ideas are outlined. While doing this, all the views and concepts that are illustrated are reflected in the light of the findings and theories of brain research. Further, the question is raised whether the debate over free will is only a problem in the German Strafrechtswissenschaft or as well in the common law system. In conclusion, taking the results from the first parts as a basis, there is a subjective appraisal and an outlook of subsequent development.

Notes: Downloadable document is in German.

Keywords: criminal law, free will, neuroscience, philosophy

Suggested Citation

Schulz, Björn, Freedom of Will and Criminal Law as Variables of Controversy between Modern Neuro Science and Philosophy (Willensfreiheit und Strafrecht im Spannungsfeld zwischen Moderner Neurowissenschaft und Philosophie). Politica Criminal, No. 6, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1603663

Björn Schulz (Contact Author)

University of Goettingen (Gottingen) ( email )

Platz der Gottinger Sieben 3
Gottingen, D-37073
Germany

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