Conscious Will and Responsibility: A Tribute to Benjamin Libet
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Lynn Nadel
Oxford University Press, Nov 24, 2010 - Psychology - 288 pages
We all seem to think that we do the acts we do because we consciously choose to do them. This commonsense view is thrown into dispute by Benjamin Libet's eyebrow-raising experiments, which seem to suggest that conscious will occurs not before but after the start of brain activity that produces physical action. Libet's striking results are often claimed to undermine traditional views of free will and moral responsibility and to have practical implications for criminal justice. His work has also stimulated a flurry of further fascinating scientific research--including findings in psychology by Dan Wegner and in neuroscience by John-Dylan Haynes--that raises novel questions about whether conscious will plays any causal role in action. Critics respond that both commonsense views of action and traditional theories of moral and legal responsibility, as well as free will, can survive the scientific onslaught of Libet and his progeny. To further this lively debate, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel have brought together prominent experts in neuroscience, psychology, philosophy, and law to discuss whether our conscious choices really cause our actions, and what the answers to that question mean for how we view ourselves and how we should treat each other.
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2 Why Libets Studies Dont Pose a Threat to Free Will
Readiness Potentials Decisions and Awareness
4 Are Voluntary Movements Initiated Preconsciously? The Relationships between Readiness Potentials Urges and Decisions
5 Do We Really Know What We Are Doing? Implications of Reported Time of Decision for Theories of Volition
How Physiology Speaks to the Issue of Responsibility
7 What Are Intentions?
Longterm Prediction of Free Choices from Neuroimaging Signals
12 Bending Time to Ones Will
A Potential Neural Mechanism of Will
14 The Phenomenology of Agency and the Libet Results
15 The Threat of Shrinking Agency and Free Will Disillusionism
16 Libet and the Criminal Laws Voluntary Act Requirement
17 Criminal and Moral Responsibility and the Libet Experiments
18 Libets Challenges to Responsible Agency
19 Lessons from Libet
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agentive experience anosognosia authorship behavior believe Benjamin Libet Bereitschaftspotential bodily movements brain activity brain events button causal cause choice claim Cognitive Neuroscience compatibilism compatibilist conscious intention Consciousness and Cognition cortical criminal decision determinism effect ence epiphenomenal evidence experimental feel finger flex fMRI folk psychology function Gleason Haggard human illusion immediate intention implementation intentions inference initiation introspection Journal Libet clock Libet’s experiments Libet’s results Locke’s Mele ment milliseconds mind moral motor awareness move neural neurons Neuroscience occur one’s onset Oxford University Press participants Passingham perception perform person phenomenology philosophers Pockett preceding prediction prefrontal cortex prior prospective memory proximal intention Psychology question readiness potential reason relevant reported responsibility role Sciences scious sense sensory signal Sirigu skepticism spontaneous state-causal stimulation subjects suggests temporal tion trials trigger type 2 processes uncon unconscious urge veto visual volition voluntary act voluntary action voluntary movements Wegner