What Is a Choice? Phenomenology and Neurobiology
De Monticelli (Roberta)
Source: Annali d'Italianistica, Vol. 29, Italian Critical Theory (2011), pp. 171-188
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Preliminaries (Truncated)

  1. Our topic is free will, or freedom of the will, and the question of whether it is or is not an illusion, given the recent findings of contemporary science. To begin, it will be useful to distinguish some senses in which we use the word "freedom," to identify the sense that is relevant to our problem. In how many senses can we intend the question: am I free?
  2. In a first sense, we refer to acting in the absence of obstacles or constrictions on the will of the agent by other wills. This is, for example, the sense in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all persons are born free, which is to say that no one is by nature subject to the will of others, even if one may become thus subjected temporarily (as a juvenile) or following judicial sanctions (loss of personal freedom: prison). On this point (as upon others) the Declaration is not enunciating a fact but a norm or a claim, and how important it is, but it tells us nothing about free will. It does not tell us if my will itself is free or determined, if the choice I will make is illusory or effective, and if it will really be I who makes it.
  3. The problem of free will involves the use of "free" as a predicate of the will. Precisely: is the will "free" or is it not? We are not asking if my acting is subject to other wills than mine. Rather, we investigate exactly the nature of the will that I name "my." Or, more to the point, we are asking about the nature of the acts in which this disposition (which is a personal will) manifests itself: the nature of choices, or of decisions.

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