¿Tenemos libre albedrío? Objeciones empíricas y filosóficas a Benjamin Libet. Thesis

short description

  • Master's thesis

Thesis author

  • Betancourt Guerrero, Rodrigo


  • Benjamin Libet has argued that specific changes in electroencephalographic (EEG) activity of the cerebral cortex are registered several hundred milliseconds before people have the conscious intention to act. According to Libet, this finding proves that voluntary movements are initiated unconsciously. As such, he questions our perception of free will under which we are conscious initiators of our voluntary actions. In this article I will present some empirical objections to his experimental model arguing that Libet does not really measure what he believes he is measuring, and that the use of electroencephalography with recording electrode scalp does not provide reliable data to correlate changes in brain activity and psychic phenomena. I will also make theoretical objections to the philosophical conclusions derived from his experiments, arguing that the simple action (to move a finger) can not be a paradigmatic action to study free will, and that Libet, by not studying neither the nature of the distal intentions nor its probable causal role in the formation of proximal intentions, can not prove that the brain decides to unconsciously initiate the action. I conclude that Libet never gets to prove that we do no act by our own free will.

publication date

  • August 6, 2015 1:05 AM


  • Attention
  • Distal intention
  • Free will
  • Movement awareness
  • Proximal intention
  • Readiness potential

Document Id

  • a9d7dbcc-23f9-4662-9f27-59f70216e3c7