Free will and neuro-ethics

last updated August 18, 2013


Free Will as Part of Nature: Habermas and His Critics

a special issue of Philosophical Explorations:  An International Journal of the Philosophy of Mind and Action 10:1 (March 2007), edited by Joel Anderson


Joel Anderson, "Introduction:  Free will, neuroscience, and the participant perspective"  Download the PDF here

Author Posting. (c) Taylor & Francis, 2007.  This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor & Francis for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Philosophical Explorations, Volume 10 Issue 1, March 2007.  doi:10.1080/13869790601170094 (

Lead Article (which can be downloaded for free from the publisher's website):

Jürgen Habermas, “The Language Game of Responsible Agency and the Problem of Free Will:  How Can Epistemic Dualism Be Reconciled with Ontological Monism?” (trans. Joel Anderson)  Link to download page

Commentaries on Habermas's essay:

  1. Randolph Clarke, "The Appearance of Freedom"

  2. Michael Quante, "Habermas on Compatibilism and Ontological Monism: Some problems"

  3. John Searle, "Neuroscience, Intentionality and Free Will: Reply to Habermas"

  4. Timothy Schroeder, "Reflection, Reason, and Free Will"


  1. Jürgen Habermas, “Reply to Schroeder, Clarke, Searle, and Quante” (translated by Joel Anderson)

The current influence of physicalistic accounts of human mind, will, and action is problematic at a number of levels. In my view, one of the most compelling responses to this trend is the combination of Kant, Wittgenstein, and Pragmatism that one finds in the work of Peter Strawson, Robert Brandom, and Jürgen Habermas.  In several essays and the special issue of Philosophical Explorations described below I’ve tried to articulate the force of these approaches and the “engaged participant perspective” on which they are based.

I’ve also written an essay recently (published in Dutch) on Strawson and Habermas and their alternative to free-will scepticism, which is available here.