A reason to be free: Operationalizing 'free action'
until further notice
SourceNeuroethics, 8, 3, (2015), pp. 327-334
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC AI
SubjectCognitive artificial intelligence; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
Recent Libet-style experiments are of limited relevance to the debate about free action and free will, and should be understood as investigations of arbitrary actions or guesses. In Libet-style experiments, the concept of 'free action' is commonly taken to refer to a 'self-initiated voluntary act', where the self prompts an action without being prompted. However, this idea is based on the problematic assumption that the conscious self needs to be free from every constraint in order to be actually free. We maintain that a fundamental condition for free action is the presence of reasons to act responsibly. By analyzing a recent neuroscientific experiment, we indicate how its results could be interpreted as indicating how free action operationalization is inappropriately focusing on arbitrary actions. Hence, the way free action has been experimentally studied may have had a misleading influence on the debate about free will.
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