Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. This BIT, excerpted from an influential book by the late Daniel Wegner, offers an innovative view of one aspect of free will. Wegner argues that when people project action to imaginary agents, they create virtual agents, apparent sources of their own volition.
If the mind and the world are entirely governed by natural laws, there seems to be no room left for free will to operate. In this BIT, Steven Horst offers an account of laws that is compatible with claims for libertarian free will. He argues that one can embrace the truth of individual laws, or indeed any set of such laws, without any implication of determinism, because the idealization conditions of each law are essentially open-ended.
Mark Balaguer argues that the question of libertarian free will reduces to a question about indeterminacy—in particular, to a straightforward empirical question about whether certain neural events in our heads are causally undetermined in a certain specific way. In this BIT, refuting arguments both for and against determinism, Balaguer shows that the question of whether human beings possess libertarian free will is a wide-open empirical question.
In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mental causation or consciousness can exist given unproven first assumptions, Peter Ulric Tse proposes that we instead listen to what neurons have to say. In this BIT, Tse examines the role of physical/informational criteria in the neuronal model of mental causation and free will.