Do we choose our actions or are they pre-determined? Is free will real or an illusion? In this special presentation with the 92nd Street Y, Nobel laureate Paul Nurse joins psychologist Daniel Wegner, neuroscientist Patrick Haggard, and philosopher Alfred Mele for a discussion that promises to illuminate this pivotal and perplexing age-old puzzle.
This program is part of The Big Idea Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.
Sir Paul Nurse is a Nobel Laureate and the President of Rockefeller University, where he continues to do research in cell biology. He is the former Chief Executive of Cancer Research in the United Kingdom. Nurse was knighted in Great Britain for his contributions to cancer research.
Daniel M. Wegner is Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. He studies how human minds accomplish self-control and guide us through social life. He conducted pioneering research on how people identify their actions and what gives us the sense that we are consciously causing them.
He is the author of The Illusion of Conscious Will and White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts and is a professor of psychology at Harvard University.
Alfred Mele is the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. He is the author of 10 books, including Free Will and Luck, Effective Intentions, A Dialogue on Free Will and Science, and Free: Why Science Hasn’t Disproved Free Will. Mele is also the author of over 200 articles and the editor or co-editor of six books. He previously worked as the director of the Big Questions in Free Will project and he’s the current director of the Philosophy and Science of Self-Control project—multimillion-dollar projects featuring collaborative research by scientists and philosophers.
Patrick Haggard is a researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London. He has studied the relationships between brain activity and subjective experience. He has published extensively on voluntary action, particularly on how and when we become conscious of our intentions and our actions.