Eddy Nahmias

Wisdom RFP Grant Recipient
Associate Professor, Philosophy

Georgia State University

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I am an Associate Professor in the Philosophy Department and the Neuroscience Institute at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. My research is devoted to the study of human agency: what it is, how it is possible, and how it accords with scientific accounts of human nature. My primary focus right now is the free will debate. In several papers (available at my website: http://www2.gsu.edu/~phlean/) and in my current book project, Rediscovering Free Will, I argue that we should re-focus debates about free will and moral responsibility away from the traditional threat of determinism towards more relevant and significant threats posed by certain theories of mind and by certain scientific research. I argue that these threats have been conflated with the thesis of determinism, and I support my position with my research projects in "experimental philosophy" on ordinary people's views about free will and responsibility. I then develop a naturalistic theory of free will that focuses on our cognitive capacities associated with self-knowledge and self-control--especially our ability to know what we really want and know how to act on it. I argue that these cognitive capacities are essentially tied to wisdom. This account of free will and wisdom is amenable to scientific inquiry. In the second half of the book, I examine various sciences of the mind (e.g., social psychology and neuroscience), which pose interesting challenges to this theory of free will and wisdom. I discuss the scope of these challenges, but I also examine research that helps to explain--rather than explain away--the cognitive capacities that allow us to have significant types of freedom, responsibility, and wisdom.

Recent Publications
Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and Mechanism: Experiments on Folk Intuitions
"Free Will, Moral Responsibility, and Mechanism: Experiments on Folk Intuitions." (with D. Justin Coates and Trevor Kvaran). Midwest Studies in Philosophy 31: 214-42, 2007. It seems that people—from philosophers to scientists to journalists to the ordinary “folk” we have surveyed—share the intuition that “if our brain makes us do it, then we aren’t morally responsible.” We think that this intuition runs deep and that it...
Close Calls and the Confident Agent: Free Will, Deliberation, and Alternative Possibilities
Nahmias, E. "Close Calls and the Confident Agent: Free Will, Deliberation, and Alternative Possibilities." Philosophical Studies 131(3): 627-67, 2006. Two intuitions lie at the heart of our conception of free will. One intuition locates free will in our ability to deliberate effectively and control our actions accordingly: the ‘Deliberation and Control’ (DC) condition. The other intuition is that free...
Folk Fears about Freedom and Responsibility: Determinism vs. Reductionism
Nahmias, E. "Folk Fears about Freedom and Responsibility: Determinism vs. Reductionism." Journal of Cognition and Culture 6(1-2): 215-37, 2006. My initial work, with collaborators Stephen Morris, Thomas Nadelhoffer, and Jason Turner (2005, 2006), on surveying folk intuitions about free will and moral responsibility was designed primarily to test a common claim in the philosophical debates: that...
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Georgia State University

Current Position

Associate Professor, Philosophy

Highest Degree

Ph.D. Duke University 2001

Research Interests

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