American Philosophical Quarterly 34 (3):319-32 (1997)

Alfred Mele
Florida State University
It is sometimes suggested that if, whenever we act intentionally, we do, or try to do, what we are most strongly motivated to do at the time, then we are at the mercy of whatever desire happens to be strongest at the time. I have argued elsewhere that this is false (Mele 1987, ch. 5; 1992, ch. 4; 1995, ch. 3; 1996). This essay provides another route to that conclusion, but that is not my primary aim. The goal of this paper is to display the bearing of some well-known experiments by physiologist Benjamin Libet on this issue. Philosophical discussion of these experiments has focused on Libet's claims about consciousness. The significance of these experiments for the topics of motivation and agential control also merits serious attention.
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