Neuroexistentialism Meaning, Morals, and Purpose in the Age of Neuroscience

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2018-03-08
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Existentialisms arise when the foundations of being, such as meaning, morals, and purpose come under assault. In the first-wave of existentialism, writings typified by Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche concerned the increasingly apparent inability of religion, and religious tradition, to support a foundation of being. Second-wave existentialism, personified philosophically by Sartre, Camus, and de Beauvoir, developed in response to similar realizations about the overly optimistic Enlightenment vision of reason and the common good.

The third-wave of existentialism, a new existentialism, developed in response to advances in the neurosciences that threaten the last vestiges of an immaterial soul or self. Given the increasing explanatory and therapeutic power of neuroscience, the mind no longer stands apart from the world to serve as a foundation of meaning. This produces foundational anxiety.

In Neuroexistentialism, a group of contributors that includes some of the world's leading philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and legal scholars, explores the anxiety caused by third-wave existentialism and possible responses to it. Together, these essays tackle our neuroexistentialist predicament, and explore what the mind sciences can tell us about morality, love, emotion, autonomy, consciousness, selfhood, free will, moral responsibility, law, the nature of criminal punishment, meaning in life, and purpose.

Author Biography

Gregg D. Caruso is Associate Professor of Philosophy at SUNY Corning

Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy at Duke University

Table of Contents

Contributor List

Chapter 1: Neuroexistentialism: Third-Wave Existentialism
Owen Flanagan and Gregg D. Caruso

Section I. Morality, Love, and Emotion
Chapter 2: The Impact of Social Neuroscience on Moral Philosophy
Patricia Smith Churchland
Chapter 3: All You Need is Love(s): Exploring the Biological Platform of Morality
Maureen Sie
Chapter 4: Does Neuroscience Undermine Morality?
Paul Henne and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Chapter 5: The Neuroscience of Purpose, Meaning, and Morals
Edmund T. Rolls
Chapter 6: Moral Sedimentation
Jesse Prinz

Section II. Autonomy, Consciousness, and the Self
Chapter 7: Choices Without Choosers: Towards a Neuropsychologically Plausible Existentialism Neil Levy
Chapter 8: Relational Authenticity
Shaun Gallagher, Ben Morgan, and Naomi Rokotnitz
Chapter 9: Behavior Control, Meaning, and Neuroscience
Walter Glannon
Chapter 10: Two Types of Libertarian Free Will are Realized in the Human Brain
Peter U. Tse

Section III. Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and Meaning in Life
Chapter 11: Hard-Incompatibilist Existentialism: Neuroscience, Punishment, and Meaning in
Life Derk Pereboom and Gregg D. Caruso
Chapter 12: On Determinism and Human Responsibility
Michael S. Gazzaniga
Chapter 13:Free Will Skepticism, Freedom, and Criminal Behavior
Farah Focquaert, Andrea L. Glenn, Adrian Raine
Chapter 14: Your Brain as the Source of Free Will Worth Wanting: Understanding Free Will in the Age of Neuroscience Eddy Nahmias
Chapter 15: Humility, Free Will Beliefs, and Existential Angst: How We Got from a Preliminary Investigation to a Cautionary Tale Thomas Nadelhoffer and Jennifer Cole Wright
Chapter 16: Purpose, Freedom, and the Laws of Nature
Sean M. Carroll

Section IV. Neuroscience and the Law
Chapter 17: The Neuroscience of Criminality and Our Sense of Justice: An Analysis of Recent
Appellate Decisions in Criminal Cases
Valerie Hardcastle
Chapter 18:The Neuroscientific Non-Challenge to Meaning, Morals and Purpose
Stephen J. Morse

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