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Mind Over Masters: The Question of Free Will

Saturday, May 30, 2015
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Do we make conscious decisions? Or are all of our actions predetermined? And if we don’t have free will, are we responsible for what we do? Modern neurotechnology is now allowing scientists to study brain activity neuron by neuron to try to determine how and when our brains decide to act. In this program, experts probe the latest research and explore the question of just how much agency we have in the world, and how the answer impacts our ethics, our behavior, and our society.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.

Photograph: Jon Smith


Emily SenayPhysician Journalist

Emily Senay is a physician, medical and public health educator, broadcast journalist, and author. She is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a clinician in the World Trade Center Health Program in New York City.

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Christof KochNeuroscientist

Born in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada, and Morocco. He studied Physics and Philosophy and was awarded his Ph.D. in Biophysics. In 1987, Koch joined the California Institute of Technology as a Professor in Biology and Engineering.

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Tamar KushnirDevelopmental Psychologist

Tamar Kushnir is an associate professor at Cornell University and the director of the Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory. Her research examines the origins of causal and social knowledge in early childhood, and how children acquire this knowledge through play, observation, and social interaction.

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Alfred MelePhilosopher

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.

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Azim ShariffPsychologist

Azim Shariff is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon and the director of the Culture and Morality Lab. He graduated with his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of British Columbia in 2010, before joining the UO faculty.

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