The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Program: The William H. Timbers '37 Lecture - "Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: Challenges of Neuroscience to Responsibility" this Wednesday

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Please join us for the William H. Timbers ’37 Lecture: “Mechanical Brains and Responsible Choices: Challenges of Neuroscience to Responsibility” with Michael Moore in Rockefeller 003 at 4:30 pm in October 8, 2014.

What is the cause of human behavior? Is it something abstract that exists in our psychological consciousness, or is it the result of a fundamental physical chain of processes that gets transferred form neuron to neuron? A 2013 article from The New York Times stated, “Once we understand the brain well enough, we will be able to understand behavior…We will see that people don’t really possess free will; their actions are caused by material processes emerging directly out of nature.” If humans don’t possess control over their own mental processes, does it mean that scientists will eventually have the capability to control behavior if they are able to solve the biological chain of psychological processes?

Michael Moore, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Illinois College of Law, seeks to critically assess these skeptical conclusions. He will discuss whether the data produced by neuroscience supports the psychological conclusions that we are not free as well as ask whether these psychological conclusions mean that no one is really responsible or blamable for their choices.


Michael Moore currently holds the only University-level chair at the University of Illinois’ three campuses, the Walgreen Chair. He is also the Center for Advanced Studies Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the Urbana-Champaign campus of the University. He has previously taught at Penn, Berkeley, San Diego, USC, ANU, Virginia, Stanford, Northwestern, and others. His research interests have had as one of their centers the issues related to moral responsibility. Five of his seven books (including the most recent, Causation and Responsibility, OUP 2009, paper 2010) have been devoted to these issues. From 2007 to 2010 he was a member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Research Project and Chair of its Intentions and Decisions research group; he also lectures from time to time to the Neuroscience Seminar of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.







This event is co-sponsored by the The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, the Dartmouth Lawyers Association, and the Dartmouth Legal Studies Faculty Group.







The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences