The phenomenology of free will

Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (7-8):162-179 (2004)
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Philosophers often suggest that their theories of free will are supported by our phenomenology. Just as their theories conflict, their descriptions of the phenomenology of free will often conflict as well. We suggest that this should motivate an effort to study the phenomenology of free will in a more systematic way that goes beyond merely the introspective reports of the philosophers themselves. After presenting three disputes about the phenomenology of free will, we survey the (limited) psychological research on the experiences relevant to the philosophical debates and then describe some pilot studies of our own with the aim of encouraging further research. The data seem to support compatibilist descriptions of the phenomenology more than libertarian descriptions. We conclude that the burden is on libertarians to find empirical support for their more demanding metaphysical theories with their more controversial phenomenological claims.

Author Profiles

Eddy Nahmias
Georgia State University
Thomas Nadelhoffer
College of Charleston
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