Free Will and Science

In R. Kane (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Free Will, 2nd edition. Oxford University Press (2011)

Alfred Mele
Florida State University
This article examines the work of two figures in fields whose work has had a significant impact on recent free-will debates, neuroscientist Benjamin Libet and psychologist Daniel Wegner. Libet's groundbreaking experimental studies on human subjects relating brain activities to the appearance or production of conscious experience, volition, and willed action have been much discussed by philosophers and scientists over the past few decades and have influenced subsequent scientific research on these subjects. The second half of the article deals with the arguments of psychologist Daniel Wegner, whose book, The Illusion of Conscious Will, has had a significant impact on free-will debates since its publication. Wegner argues that our experience of conscious control over our willed actions is an illusion. Wegner appeals in part to the Libet experiments and other neuroscientifc experiments on voluntary action.
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