2011 - Volume 02

Amadeus Magrabi (2011)
Self-Control in the Free Will Debate. The Implications of Empirical Studies

Bachelor Thesis
Philosophy of Cognition

What can empirical studies tell us about free will? By looking at the literature, one could get the idea that there are only two ways to answer this question: (1) Free will is clearly identified by the empirical sciences as being a mere illusion, or (2) empirical studies do not and never will tell us anything about free will. This thesis argues for a view that lies in the middle. First, I will argue that self-control – conceptualized as the influence of conscious deliberations on decisions – is a necessary condition for free will. Second, from the perspective of self-control, I will discuss findings from neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, and social psychology. It will turn out that no experiment is able to deny, on a stable empirical basis, that we usually have self-control when we think we do. However, especially social psychological studies strongly suggest that we should keep a healthy dose of skepticism with regard to our trust in free will. The claim that there can never be a study which clearly speaks against free will seems to be premature.


AUTHOR = {Magrabi, Amadeus},
editor = {K\"uhnberger, K.-U. and K\"onig, P. and Walter, S.},
TITLE = {Self-Control in the Free Will Debate. The Implications of Empirical Studies},
PUBLISHER = {Institute of Cognitive Science},
YEAR = {2011},
volume = {2-2011},
series = {Publications of the Institute of Cognitive Science},
address = {Osnabr\"uck},
isbn = {1610-5389},

02-2011.pdf1.19 MB