Fabio Paglieri

The Temporal Structure of Intentional Action: an Illusion of the Will or an Illusion of Neuroscience?

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Commenting on Caruana's meditations about the problematic relationship between neuroscience and the law, I challenge the idea that neuroscientific results on the timing of awareness of our intentions undermine the notion of personal responsibility. More specifically, I oppose the view that the conscious subject has no real control over intentional actions, positing instead that awareness is inessential only in action execution, while it plays a central role in decision making. As for what credit neuroscience should have in legal matters, I argue that neuroscientific data should be fully and immediately incorporated in legal debate, whenever relevant; in contrast, bold interpretations of such data should be assessed critically and carefully, before assuming that basic legal principles need to be revised in light of new findings on how the brain works.

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