Do What You Want: When Deliberation Means Liberation

Pessiglione Mathias
Language of the article : French
DOI: n/a
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The ongoing debate about free will in cognitive neuroscience, which started with the first experiments on the timing of mental and cerebral events, has been focused on whether the feeling of exerting conscious volition can be causally responsible of elementary movements such as moving the index finger. While the metaphysical issue is not solved, there is a consensus about the dissociation between neural processes that cause movements and those that generate the impression of free volition. This paper reviews empirical arguments in favor of a similar departure, regarding more elaborate decisions that involve subjective preferences, between actual causes of choices and reasons advanced for their justification. Indeed, the literature on decision bias shows that reasons are often elaborated post-hoc, to align choices on coherent norms that their real causes may not respect. It thus becomes clear that the functional architecture of the brain, shaped by natural selection, imposes hidden constraints on preferences, which may vary across individuals, or across time in a same individual. It has also been observed that particular choices do not always follow general preferences, which is formalized as random variations in decision-making models, but likely reflects incomplete knowledge of the brain system. However, as neural constraints are progressively uncovered, we can incorporate them into deliberation, hence emancipate from automatic compulsions, and therefore win some degrees of freedom.

Pour citer cet article :

Pessiglione Mathias (2021/2). Do What You Want: When Deliberation Means Liberation. In Monier Cyril & Khamassi Mehdi (Eds), Liberty and cognition, Intellectica, 75, (pp.207-224), DOI: n/a.