The Spirit of Unity

Delimiting Freedom: Aquinas between Brain Science and Choice Gone Wild

Anselm Ramelow

When asked about freedom of the will, contemporary culture seems to offer us two incompatible responses at once: on the one hand, we believe in the hard sciences, which in the popular imagination seem to paint a deterministic picture and tell us that we do not have free will; on the other hand, we also believe in our inalienable rights to free choice, the possibilities of which we consider to be almost limitless. Here, our biological nature seems to be up for redefinition and even our very identities to be subject to re-creation by the power of speech or technology. Because one cannot hold both positions at once, clashes begin to emerge, be it between feminism and evolutionary biology or between claims to freedom of choice and neuroscience. As the contradictions become more apparent, more constructive proposals will be in demand.


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