A certain sort of philosopher has always had a thing for the latest scientific ideas. Some argue that Plato built cutting edge thinking about ratios and harmonies into not just the divided line, but the structure of his dialogues too. Modern philosophers were much taken by new, intricate clockwork mechanisms, and maybe this had more than a little to do with their thoughts about mind and matter. Computers continue to shape our thinking about how the mind works, but there’s no question that now neuroscience is having profound effects on philosophical reflection about who we are and what it means to be human. In this issue, we can only consider a part of the intersection between neuroscience and philosophy.
Owen Flanagan and Gregg D. Caruso take up neuroexistentialism, “a twenty-first-century anxiety over the way contemporary neuroscience helps secure in a particularly vivid way the message of Darwin from 150 years ago: that humans are animals”. Sarah Lane Ritchie wonders how religious feelings and experiences might survive a neuroscientific explanation. Alfred Mele argues that discoveries about the brain have not quite killed off free will just yet. Ophelia Deroy and Marwa El Zein examine the question of whether neuroscience can show that our brains make us utilitarians. Barry C. Smith has the last word, arguing that neuroscience and philosophy ought not to be seen as competitors, but as collaborators.