Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lynn Nadel

By Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lynn Nadel

All of us appear to imagine that we do the acts we do simply because we consciously decide to do them. This common sense view is thrown into dispute via Benjamin Libet's eyebrow-raising experiments, which appear to recommend that awake will happens now not ahead of yet after the beginning of mind job that produces actual action.

Libet's awesome effects are usually claimed to undermine conventional perspectives of unfastened will and ethical accountability and to have useful implications for felony justice. His paintings has additionally influenced a flurry of extra interesting clinical research--including findings in psychology by way of Dan Wegner and in neuroscience by means of John-Dylan Haynes--that increases novel questions about even if awake will performs any causal position in motion. Critics reply that either common sense perspectives of motion and standard theories of ethical and obligation, in addition to unfastened will, can live on the clinical onslaught of Libet and his progeny. To extra this vigorous debate, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel have introduced jointly well-known specialists in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and legislations to debate no matter if our wakeful offerings relatively reason our activities, and what the solutions to that question suggest for the way we view ourselves and the way we should always deal with every one other.

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Additional info for Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin Libet (Oxford Series in Neuroscience, Law and Philosophy)

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Alberts, W. , Wright, E. , Delattre, L. , & Feinstein, B. (1964). Production of threshold levels of conscious sensation by electrical stimulation of human somatosensory cortex. Journal of Neurophysiology, 27, 546–578. , Alberts, W. , Wright, E. , & Feinstein, B. (1967). Responses of human somatosensory cortex to stimuli below threshold for conscious sensation. Science, 158(3803), 1597–1600. , Alberts, W. , Wright, E. , & Feinstein, B. (1972). Cortical and thalamic activation in conscious sensory experience.

If so, Libet’s studies definitively impact our understanding of only a small number of our actions, and these appear to be the ones that are least likely to matter for discussions of freedom. 3. Is Libet Really Asking the Question He Claims to Be Asking? The preceding discussion calls into question the extent to which we should take Libet’s results to bear upon the philosophical question of freedom. Here I consider a question that I think seriously undermines Libet’s arguments for unconscious initiation of action.

104). If a proximal intention to press was acquired, that happened, on average, nearer to the time of muscle motion than 231 ms and, therefore, much nearer than the 550 ms that Libet claims is the time proximal intentions to flex are unconsciously acquired in his studies. CONSCIOUS WILL AND RESPONSIBILITY Notice also how close we are getting to Libet’s subjects’ average reported time of their initial awareness of something he variously describes as an “intention,” “urge,” “wanting,” “decision,” “will,” or “wish” to move (reported time W: −200 ms).

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