Mind, body, will
A week ago slashdot posted a Wired story about some experiments where brain scanners could predict a subject’s “choice” before the subject was conscious of making the choice (thanks, Jess and Rich, for the link!). There’s some interesting dialogue in the comments section of the slashdot post as folks think through studies like this. The study’s conclusion may surprise most of us, since we as humans perceive that our choice is exercised in our conscious state. That is, we think that we are free to decide things because we experience the act of decision-making consciously. But if our decisions are determined before we’re conscious that we made the decision, are we really free?
In regards to this study, the question can boil down to the question–does free will have to operate in consciousness to exist? If a decision is predetermined before we’re made aware of it, do we have free will at all? Are there implications of this kind of thing on our ideas of personal responsibility? An interesting topic for discussion indeed. Another related question: There are other (scientific and philosophical) reasons for believing/disbelieving in free will. What are yours?
See you Thursday.
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