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Free Will Discrepancy

Free Will Discrepancy

The apparent discrepancy between the EEG machines’ recording and patients’ verbal admission of flexing their wrists shows that humans are not in control of their conscious decisions. The experiment involved a clock connected to detect brain activity, and attendants also asked patients’ verbal awareness of wrist movement. Most patients reported that they had made a conscious decision to adjust their wrist after the brain activity that produces actions had occurred (as recorded by the EEG machines). The brain controlled the patients’ conscious awareness of wrist flexing, but they were not in control of brain activity. This example shows free will is an illusion (Lavazza, 2016). Some decisions humans make are not because it is something they want to do. Instead, human choices are determined by underlying and passive factors, some of which they may be unaware of.

The conclusions from the EEG machines on neurology align with the determinist position. The determinist position agrees that humans are conscious and that they have desires they would wish to fulfill. However, determinism presents a position that contrasts free will: that humans’ conscious actions do not cause specific behavior (Lavazza, 2016). In other words, human behavior is not influenced by their conscious agency or willingness to fulfill their desires. Instead, forces beyond one’s conscious choice influence their behavior.

Mele, to some extent, disagrees with the arm flexing experiment and its connection to free will. Firstly, he avers that free will is shaped by human experience accumulated over time (Mele & Kane, 2015). To that end, free will may not be demarcated to occasional moments where it is applied. In the same breath, free will is not a punctuated experience that happens momentarily. It is deeply ingrained into one’s persona such that it guides one’s actions even when one may not seem to realize it. Mele’s position contradicts the conclusion from the neuroscience experience, which reinforces determinism. After all, humans are not unconscious zombies.


Lavazza, A. (2016). Free will and neuroscience: from explaining freedom away to new ways of operationalizing and measuring it. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience10, 262.

Mele, A. R., & Kane, R. (2015). Free will and science. Philosophy of Action: An Anthology393.


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Free Will Discrepancy

Free Will Discrepancy

What are we to make about the apparent discrepancy, as apparently shown by EEG machines, between our conscious realization of our flexing our arm, and our actual flexing of our arm?
Does this show we don’t have free will?
What else should we say, re the material for this week?

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