Synthese 191 (2):245-262 (2014)

Benjamin Libet’s work paved the way for the neuroscientific study of free will. Other scientists have praised this research as groundbreaking. In philosophy, the reception has been more negative, often even dismissive. First, I will propose a diagnosis of this striking discrepancy. I will suggest that the experiments seem irrelevant, from the perspective of philosophy, due to the way in which they operationalize free will. In particular, I will argue that this operational definition does not capture free will properly and that it is based on a false dichotomy between internal and external causes. However, I will also suggest that this problem could be overcome, as there are no obvious obstacles to an operationalization of free will that is in accord with the philosophical conception of free will
Keywords Neuroscience of free will  Definition of free will  Libet experiment  Acting for reasons  Reason-responsiveness
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0312-2
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References found in this work BETA

Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason.Michael Bratman - 1987 - Cambridge: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - Oxford University Press USA.

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Citations of this work BETA

Agency.Markus E. Schlosser - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Origin of Agency, Consciousness, and Free Will.J. H. van Hateren - 2015 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 14 (4):979-1000.

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Libet and the Case for Free Will Scepticism.Tim Bayne - 2011 - In Richard Swinburne (ed.), Free Will and Modern Science. Oup/British Academy.
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