Raymond Tallis - Free Will and the Brain





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Published on Jan 1, 2008

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2007/10/28/Battle_of_I...

British gerontologist, author and cultural critic Raymond Tallis addresses questions regarding free will and the brain.


"Battle of Ideas: My Brain Made Me Do It" at the 2007 Battle of Ideas conference hosted by the Institute of Ideas.

With the politics of behaviour in the ascendancy, there is increasing interest in what science can tell us about why people behave the way they do. The British government is funding the creation of the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners, with the express aim of training a 'parenting workforce' to provide science-based child-rearing advice to parents. In the USA, the MRI scanner and the neuroscientific community are entering the court room to give evidence about whether defendants can be regarded as being responsible for their alleged crimes. UK policymakers cite scientific 'evidence' to explain new interventions on everything from early years' education to the alleged impact of school dinners on academic performance. The science of nutrition now informs earnest discussions about how children's diets improve their classroom behaviour, in order to justify policing lunchboxes and putting school meals at the top of the political agenda. Studies of teenage brain development now regularly inform social debates about the impact of new technologies on young people.

But how much can science tell us about behaviour? Do scientific findings justify the government's many interventions into the early years of children's lives? Should neuroscience enjoy an exalted place in the courtroom? Are policies being developed because of genuine advances in scientific knowledge - or is science being (mis)used, perhaps in the place of political conviction, to justify policies? - IoI

Raymond Tallis was trained at the University of Oxford and St Thomas's Hospital, qualifying in 1970. He was a Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester and a consultant physician in Health Care of the Elderly in Salford (1987-2006).

Outside his medical career, he has been awarded two honorary degrees: DLitt (Hon Causa) from the University of Hull in 1997; and LittD (Hon Causa) from the University of Manchester in 2002. In 2004 he was identified in Prospect magazine as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the United Kingdom.

His numerous medical publications include two major textbooks, while most of his research publications are in the field of neurology of old age and neurological rehabilitation. He has also published fiction, three volumes of poetry, and over a dozen books and 150 articles on the philosophy of the mind, philosophical anthropology, literary theory, the nature of art and cultural criticism.


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