What do Neurosciences Talk About When They Talk About Free Will?

Federica Della Grotta


Abstract: In this paper, I will take into account and criticize two of the most celebrated neuroscientific experiments about free will, which seem to deny that agents freely deliberate about simple choices of their everyday life: the pioneering experiment of Benjamin Libet and the more recent one of John Dylan Hayes. My aim is to reject the relevance of their empirical results, which deny the existence of free will. However, such a rejection will not rely on criticisms about how the experiments are conducted. Instead, I would like to bring about a broad philosophical and methodological concern: namely, that the success or the failure of the experiments in arguing for the illusion of free will is strictly dependent on the meaning of the notion of free will which is put through an experimental investigation.

Keywords: Free Will; Neurosciences; Experimental Investigations; Benjamin Libet; Dylan Hayes.


Di cosa parlano le neuroscienze quando parlano di libero arbitrio?

Riassunto: In questo articolo mi occuperò criticamente di due tra i più noti esperimenti neuroscientifici sul libero arbitrio, i quali paiono negare che gli agenti possano liberamente prendere decisioni, anche molto semplici, nel corso della vita quotidiana: il pionieristico esperiemento di Benjamin Libet e quello più recente di John Dylan Hayes. Intendo mettere in discussione la rilevanza dei loro risultati empirici che negano l’esistenza del libero arbitrio. Questo rifiuto non sarà basato su una critica del modo in cui questi esperimenti sono stati condotti. Vorrei piuttosto portare l’attenzione su una questione più ampia da un punto di vista filosofico e metodologico: il successo o il fallimento degli esperimenti nell’affermare l’illusione del libero arbitrio è strettamente dipendente dal significato della nozione di libero arbitrio che messa sotto indagine da un punto di vista sperimentale.
Parole chiave: Libero arbitrio; Neuroscienze; Ricerche sperimentali; Benjamin Libet; Dylan Hayes.

Parole chiave

Free Will; Neurosciences; Experimental Investigation; Benjamin Libet; Dylan Hayes.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2015.0011

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