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Conscious Will and ResponsibilityA Tribute to Benjamin Libet$
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Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.001.0001

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The Threat of Shrinking Agency and Free Will Disillusionism

The Threat of Shrinking Agency and Free Will Disillusionism

Chapter:
(p.173) Chapter 15 The Threat of Shrinking Agency and Free Will Disillusionism
Source:
Conscious Will and Responsibility
Author(s):

Thomas Nadelhoffer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.003.0016

Whereas the traditional free will debate focused on the free part of “free will”—with an emphasis on alternative possibilities and the ability to do otherwise—many of the new threats from psychology pose potential problems for the will part as well. This chapter attempts to shed some light on the nature of these potential psychological threats. It first sets the stage by explaining and clarifying some key terms and exploring some of the key issues from the free will debate. It then examines several potential threats to free will collectively referred to as the Threat of Shrinking Agency. In piecing this general threat together, it discusses the work of several prominent psychologists including Jonathan Bargh, Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and others. The goal is not to argue that these threats actually do undermine free will and responsibility, but simply to trace the boundaries of the potential threats examined and show that they are not dependent on other potential threats such as determinism, mechanism, reductionism, and the like.

Keywords:   human agency, free will, Threat of Shrinking Agency, Jonathan Bargh, Daniel Wegner, Benjamin Libet

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