Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Free will: the free will is, formulated in everyday language, the ability of a subject to choose among alternatives. See also Libet experiments, freedom, subject, individual, determinism, action autonomy, compatibilism.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Chris Frith on Free Will - Dictionary of Arguments

I 85
Libet/Experiment/Frith: (1983): e.g. raising a finger when one feels the desire to do so. The brain activity was measured with an EEG.
It was already known that there was an activity before the spontaneous movement (standby potential). The activity can arise up to one second before the lifting of the finger.
New: Libet: the people should remember the moment when they felt the desire.
I 86
This point of time they could read on a special clock. The experiment was repeated and confirmed with different clocks.
Desire: occurred about 200 msec before the actual lifting of the finger.
N.B.: the characteristic change in brain activity, the standby potential occurred approximately 500 msec before actual lifting.
Interpretation: does the experiment show that we have no free will?
Problem: the alternatives are extremely trivial.
I 87
Freedom of Will/Frith: the experiment does not show that we do not have free will, but that we are not aware of having made the choice at an earlier point of time.
I 204
Variant: reacting to a tone with pressing a button. The clock to be observed was a special dial on a computer screen.
N.B.: the "mental" and the physical time did not agree. In your head pressing the button occurs a bit later and the sound of the bell occurs somewhat earlier.
Mental time/Frith: here the components of the action are connected.
I 205
Variant: the finger twitch is triggered from the outside by a magnetic pulse. Then you do not feel like you are the originator.
I 206
Action: the finger-twitch is no action then. The brain no longer connects the sound and the twitching.
Mental time: is here pulled apart.
N.B.: by doing this, the brain realizes that you are not the originator.
I 249
Libet/experiment/freedom/freedom of will/will/Frith: the instruction to behave self-determined leads to an illusory freedom. Instead we play a complex game with the experimenter.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Frith I
Chris Frith
Making up the Mind: How the Brain Creates Our Mental World, Hoboken/NJ 2007
German Edition:
Wie unser Gehirn die Welt erschafft Heidelberg 2013

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-08-05
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