Knowing your choice before you choose
In 1980s, neuroscientists joined philosophers and psychologists in the investigation of volitional actions and freedom of will. In a series of experiments pioneered by Benjamin Libet (1985), it was observed that some neural activities correlated with volitional action regularly precedes the conscious will to perform it, which suggests that what appears to be a free action may actually be predetermined by some neural activities, even before the conscious intention to act arises. Shortly after publication of that study, Libet’s findings and interpretations were started to be criticized on philosophical and methodological grounds. In this study, the legitimacy of the criticisms directed to Libet’s and his successors’ experiments is discussed by taking recent neuroscience studies on volition into account and it is argued that these criticisms are not sufficient to eliminate the doubt that these experiments casted on the freedom of the will.
Keywords: Free will, Benjamin Libet, neuroscience, unconscious intentions.
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