Free will without consciousness?

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

Findings demonstrating decision-related neural activity preceding volitional actions have dominated the discussion about how science can inform the free will debate. These discussions have largely ignored studies suggesting that decisions might be influenced or biased by various unconscious processes. If these effects are indeed real, do they render subjects' decisions less free or even unfree? Here, we argue that, while unconscious influences on decision-making do not threaten the existence of free will in general, they provide important information about limitations on freedom in specific circumstances. We demonstrate that aspects of this long-lasting controversy are empirically testable and provide insight into their bearing on degrees of freedom, laying the groundwork for future scientific-philosophical approaches.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Mudrik, L; Arie, IG; Amir, Y; Shir, Y; Hieronymi, P; Maoz, U; O'Connor, T; Schurger, A; Vargas, M; Vierkant, T; Sinnott-Armstrong, W; Roskies, A

Published Date

  • July 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 555 - 566

PubMed ID

  • 35428589

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1879-307X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1364-6613

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.tics.2022.03.005


  • eng