Saturday, March 10, 2007


This article concerns new discoveries about brain activity and criminal behavior, including some research at Vanderbilt.

The part that interested me is the following paragraphs. My comments follow.

Still, Morse concedes that there are circumstances under which new discoveries from neuroscience could challenge the legal system at its core. “Suppose neuroscience could reveal that reason actually plays no role in determining human behavior,” he suggests tantalizingly. “Suppose I could show you that your intentions and your reasons for your actions are post hoc rationalizations that somehow your brain generates to explain to you what your brain has already done” without your conscious participation. If neuroscience could reveal us to be automatons in this respect, Morse is prepared to agree with Greene and Cohen that criminal law would have to abandon its current ideas about responsibility and seek other ways of protecting society.
Some scientists are already pushing in this direction. In a series of famous experiments in the 1970s and ’80s, Benjamin Libet measured people’s brain activity while telling them to move their fingers whenever they felt like it. Libet detected brain activity suggesting a readiness to move the finger half a second before the actual movement and about 400 milliseconds before people became aware of their conscious intention to move their finger. Libet argued that this leaves 100 milliseconds for the conscious self to veto the brain’s unconscious decision, or to give way to it — suggesting, in the words of the neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran, that we have not free will but “free won’t.”

Sometimes this happens to me. For example, I will be lying in bed, thinking about getting up. I don't want to get up. There are things I need to do that I don't want to do. It feels so good in bed.

Then, suddenly, I am up and walking. What happened? I never made a decision to get up. Just like that, though, I am up. It is as if someone else made the decision, pushed a button, and made my muscles start working.

Evidently, my subconscious is making this decision and executing it, while my conscious mind didn't know about it.

I would welcome stories about this from my readers.

Oops! I posted the following to the wrong message - sorry (reposted here).

As soon as Society accepts this argument I will eliminate all the liberals.
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?