Free will doesn’t exist? Why we shouldn’t be swayed by this ‘flawed experiment’

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Image: Rudall30/iStock

One of the most fervent of late 19th century materialists, T.H. Huxley, described human beings as “conscious automata” with no free will.

[O]ur sense of making choices or decisions is just an awareness of what the brain has already decided for us. When we become aware of the brain’s actions, we think about them and falsely conclude that our intentions have caused them. You could compare it to a king who believes he is making all his own decisions, but is constantly being manipulated by his advisors and officials.

Benjamin Libet conducted experiments that seemed to show that the brain “registers” the decision to make movements before a person consciously decides to move.

Related article:  Inside the quest to use gene therapy to cure a form of congenital blindness

[However,] it relies on the participants’ own recording of when they feel the intention to move. One issue here is that there may be a delay between the impulse to act and their recording of it.

Because of issues such as these—and others that I don’t have space to mention—it seems strange that such a flawed experiment has become so influential, and has been (mis)used so frequently as evidence against the idea of free will.

Read full, original post: How a Flawed Experiment “Proved” That Free Will Doesn’t Exist

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