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Eddy Nahmias

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Faculty of Neuroscience Institute
Office:34 Peachtree, 1116
Phone: (404) 413-6117
Email: enahmias(at)

Biographical Information

Ph.D. Duke University, 2001
Affiliate Faculty,  Jean Beer Blumenfeld Center for Ethics

Research Description:

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. I am currently working on a book project, Rediscovering Free Will, which is contracted with Oxford University Press and funded by a Wisdom Grant (2008-2010) from the University of Chicago’s Arete Initiative and the John Templeton Foundation. In the book I argue that the free will debate should not be focused on the traditional question of whether free will is compatible with determinism. Rather, the free will debate should be focused on distinct threats posed by the sciences of the mind (e.g., neuroscience and psychology). I examine these threats and argue that they do not show that free will is an illusion. However, they do suggest that we have less free will than we tend to think. I also argue that these sciences can help to explain free will, rather than explaining it away. To set up these conclusions about what the modern mind sciences tell us about free will, I offer a naturalistic theory of free will focusing on the importance of self-knowledge—especially our ability to know what we really want and know how to act on it. This account of free will, which analyzes it as set of psychological capacities that agents possess and exercise to varying degrees, is amenable to scientific inquiry. I also discuss empirical research on ordinary people’s intuitions about free will and moral responsibility—i.e., ‘experimental philosophy.’