Optimism about agents: How neuroscience illuminates, not threatens, conscious and free agency

by Robyn Repko Waller The case for the illusion of conscious agency from neuroscience is far from a straightforward conclusion. Last month I introduced a curious disconnect in public perception of neurotechnology. Whereas reports of brain-computer interfaces (BCI) inspire celebration of expanding agency, the public seem wary that neuroimaging exposes the illusion of conscious agency.…

Responsibility for Rioting: Can those Complicit Cast Blame?

by Robyn Repko Waller Wednesday’s riots at the Capitol shook many Americans and, indeed, individuals around the globe. Screens worldwide glared with shocking and impactful images of some Trump supporters breaching Capitol police barricades and scaling the Capitol walls to loot and overrun the halls and private chambers in an attempt at undermining the ceremonial…

University, Interrupted: Teaching and Scholarship during COVID-19

by Robyn Repko Waller As the fall term winds down for universities across the US (and abroad), what has one semester, interrupted, and another one, planned, under COVID taught us about university life? In March 2020, with the growing community spread of COVID-19 upon the nation, universities shuttered in response to the seismic early rumblings of…

When is My Choice My Own? A Reflection on the Impact of Persuasion and Big Data

by Robyn Repko Waller Whether a data-driven nudge diminishes my agency turns on more than just its algorithmic origin. With the US Presidential Election and other national contests a mere weeks away, voter persuasion efforts of all stripes are at a peak. While traditional methods of pressing the flesh (but not too literally these days…

Choosing for the Children: Parenting in Times of Uncertainty

by Robyn Repko Waller Lack of choice is frustrating,  but sometimes choice — choosing for others — can be equally daunting This August parents and guardians of children across the country are facing unenviable decisions about childcare and school in the time of COVID. Carers of school-age kids have been surveyed by the school district,…

Control and COVID-19: How to Confront the Wall of the Invading Virus

by Robyn Repko Waller My professional expertise as a philosopher concerns questions of free will. Sometimes the question is whether determinism threatens our free will. Sometimes the question is whether science speaks against our having free will. And sometimes the question is how others’ influence on our lives limits our control and responsibly. Often the…