Libet and Freedom in a Mind-Haunted World

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 9 (1):42-44 (2018)
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Saigle, Dubljevic, and Racine (2018) claim that Libet-style experiments are insufficient to challenge that agents have free will. They support this with evidence from experimen- tal psychology that the folk concept of freedom is consis- tent with monism, that our minds are identical to our brains. However, recent literature suggests that evidence from experimental psychology is less than determinate in this regard, and that folk intuitions are too unrefined as to provide guidance on metaphysical issues like monism. In light of this, it is worthwhile to examine the authors’ insuf- ficiency claim under the assumption that monism is false and dualism true (our minds are not identical to our brains). We conclude that, were dualism true, then Libet- style experiments would tell us no more about freedom and moral responsibility than what the authors initially claimed, thus further bolstering their point that Libet-style experiments are ill-suited to speak to the free will of agents. In what follows we first discuss some of the reasons to be skeptical of using folk intuitions to make claims about the nature of freedom and moral responsibility. We then draw from the work of E. J. Lowe to demonstrate that Libet-style experiments would likely give the same results regardless of the truth of monism or dualism.

Author Profiles

Robert M. Kelly
Bakersfield College
David Limbaugh
State University of New York (SUNY)


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