The experiments of the physiologist Benjamin Libet are famous for their contribution to the free will/determinism debate to the extent that in popular imagination they are often believed to have disproved the existence of free will.
This is an essay I wrote back in 2009, and there’s a sense in which my having written it may have been futile. I refer not to the disdain which the general public may so sadly direct at the noble art of the philosophy essay, but to the possibility that I am the only person capable of reading it –not because of my idiosyncratic and altogether inept use of language– but because I may, for all I know, be the only sentient person in the universe. We have all considered this possibility at some point, but because it is so absurd it is easy enough to dismiss. The philosophical problem of demonstrating why we are right to dismiss it is, however, far from easy. Read the rest of this entry