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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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Do We Have Free Will?

Do We Have Free Will?

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Do We Have Free Will?
Source:
Conscious Will and Responsibility
Author(s):

Benjamin Libet

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.003.0002

This chapter presents a classic essay in which Benjamin Libet lays out his basic experimental results and draws philosophical lessons regarding free will and responsibility. He argues that the existence of free will is at least as good, if not a better, scientific option than is its denial by determinist theory. Given the speculative nature of both determinist and nondeterminist theories, why not adopt the view that we do have free will (until some real contradictory evidence may appear, if it ever does). Such a view would at least allow us to proceed in a way that accepts and accommodates our own deep feeling that we do have free will. We would not need to view ourselves as machines that act in a manner completely controlled by the known physical laws. Such a permissive option has also been advocated by the neurobiologist Roger Sperry.

Keywords:   conscious will, brain processes, voluntary acts, determinism, free will, responsibility, Benjamin Libet, Roger Sperry

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