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Enactivist InterventionsRethinking the Mind$
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Shaun Gallagher

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198794325

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198794325.001.0001

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Action and the Problem of Free Will

Action and the Problem of Free Will

Chapter:
(p.132) 7 Action and the Problem of Free Will
Source:
Enactivist Interventions
Author(s):

Shaun Gallagher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198794325.003.0007

This chapter examines the concept of free will as it is discussed in philosophy and neuroscience. It reviews reflective and perceptual theories of agency and argues against neuro-centric conclusions about the illusory nature of free will. Experiments conducted by Benjamin Libet suggest that neural activations prior to conscious awareness predict specific actions. This has been taken as evidence that challenges the traditional notion of free will. Libet’s experiments, arguably, are about motor control processes on an elementary timescale and say nothing about freely willed intentional actions embedded in personal and social contexts that involve longer-term, narrative timescales. One implication of this interpretation is that enactivism is not a form of simple behaviorism. Agency is not a thing reducible to elementary neuronal processes; nor is it an idea or a pure consciousness. It rather involves a structure of complex relations.

Keywords:   free will, reflection, Benjamin Libet, motor control, behavior

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