AJOB Neuroscience.

The Impact of a Landmark Neuroscience Study on Free Will: A Qualitative Analysis of Articles Using Libet and Colleagues’ Methods

Gathering evidence across disciplines is a strength of interdisciplinary fields like neuroethics. However, conclusions can only be made if the evidence applies to the issue at hand. Libet and colleagues’ 1983 experiment is an interesting case study in this problem. Despite ongoing critiques about the methods used and the replicability of its findings, many people consider Libet and colleagues’ methodology a valid strategy to investigate free will and related topics. We reviewed studies using methods similar to those of Libet and colleagues (N = 48) to identify its use and the evidence produced. Overall, we found substantial variation between studies. While the Libet paradigm may be useful for examining how stimuli affect temporal judgments, the link between this and free will or moral responsibility is not clear. Being aware and critical of the methods used to gather results is important when applying scientific experiments to complex, abstract phenomena.

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Volume 9, Issue 1
March 2018