January 18, 2011

From Tibor R. Machan :

Re: From brain science, new questions about free will (July 1): Although I am no brain scientist, I have done a lot of work on the free will issue and the contention that because some unconscious motives are detectable when one thinks one is deciding unconsciously is a hasty generalization--commits what I call the blow up fallacy (taking a tiny picture an applying it to everything). As the saying goes, one swallow does not a spring make.

One can test this point easily enough. Just decide that after you see a purple car coming down the road, you will beep your horn. Then wait and when you do see such a car, you will beep your horn but not before. Well, if the beeping were motivate unconsciously, the sequence would be impossible. One needs to be conscious of the purple car before beeping the horn, as per one's plan.

Hundreds of other simple experiments confirm the point. Whatever Libet & Co. , have recorded must cover but a tiny fraction of human action, maybe at habitual levels, certainly not when it comes to complex behaviors (such as constitute most of what we do).

Tibor R. Machan
R. C. Hoiles Chair in Business Ethics and Free Enterprise
Argyros School
Chapman University


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