Hello, my name is Alfred Mele. I'm the William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. I'm giving a talk in the philosophy, science and religion series. My talk is on free will and neuroscience. I'll mainly talk about science, especially neuroscience. I'll talk a bit about philosophy. This topic has of course connections to religion too and philosophy of religion. I won't have much to say about religion in the talk but I've been asked to say a few words about it at the beginning. So, there are certainly connections between free will and religion. For example, there's the problem of divine foreknowledge. So suppose God is omniscient, that is God knows everything, then it may seem to follow that God knows everything that everybody will ever do and that God knows it in advance. But if God knows everything you're ever going to do, then it looks like you can't do otherwise than you actually do. In which case, you might start worrying about free will. Free will comes in connection with religion and another way too. Some people wonder why there's all the pain and suffering that exists in the world. They wonder why God would allow it. One answer is that God allows it partly because it is produced by free actions of free human beings. But, my main topic is going to be a collection of neuroscience experiments that have been claimed to show that free will is an illusion, that free will doesn't exist. What I'll do is to explain why we can't get properly from the data that these experiments produce to the conclusion that there's no free will. I won't do this in any fancy philosophical way, I'm mainly going to be paying attention to data and what the data show. So, it's always useful I think for me anyway to tell the audience a bit about my motivation for working on this topic. What happened is I've always tracked science related to human action because my specialty really is human behavior. Years ago, the news started coming out that scientists had shown that there was no free will. Originally, I thought nobody was going to pay much attention to it because it's such a shocking announcement. But then the news came out more frequently and I started wondering what effect it would have on people. So, would it depress people or would they just not believe it or would they find it a matter of relief that they don't have free will so they can't be blamed for bad things that they do? Eventually, we started getting hard evidence about that, about the effect of the news on people's behavior. I'll talk about that in a minute. I'll read you some quotations from the news just so you get a sense of it. So here's one, this is from April 2008, Science Now Daily News, "Your mind might be made up before you know it. Researchers have found patterns of brain activity that predict people's decisions up to 10 seconds before they're aware they have made a choice. The result was hard for some to stomach because it suggested that the unconscious brain calls the shots, making free will an illusory afterthought." Oh here's another one from Science News, December 2008. The article was called The Decider. Some of you might remember that George Bush was the decider. "Free will is not the defining feature of humanness modern neuroscience implies, but is rather an illusion that endures only because biochemical complexity conceals the mechanisms of decision making." So, that was eight years ago, but the news is still coming out, here's something from June 2016. "There's No Such Thing as Free Will" based on a recent science experiment. Here's an example of something I got, this is an email out of the blue. I was at the time working on my book Effective Intentions which is a response to scientific arguments for the claim that there's no free will and I received this from someone I don't know. "Dear Dr. Mele, I recently purchased a DVD by Dr. Stephen Wolinsky. He explains that from the point of view of neuroscience there's no such thing as free will, as we can only perceive an action after it has already occurred. Can you please help me with this? I can understand that I don't know what thought will occur next, but that that has already happened is beyond comprehension. Thank you, as I am in a lot of despair." I thought well, there's at least one person who was saddened or depressed by the news that there's no free will. Okay, then as I mentioned, we started getting hard evidence about the effect of this news on people. The first study that was done on this was done by Kathleen Vohs and Jonathan Schooler, a pair of social psychologists. What they did was to divide their subject pool into three groups, and one group was given a passage to read saying that there's no free will and another group was given pro free will passages, passages saying that you do have free will. The third group was given neutral passages, passages having nothing to do with free will. Then the next task was to take a math quiz and the subjects were told that the program was glitchy so that if they didn't press the space bar right after the questions showed up, then the answer would pop up on the screen, in which case of course they could cheat because they could see the answer. What they discovered is that the group who read the no free will passages cheated way more often than the other two groups. The other two groups behaved about the same which is evidence that free will is a kind of default assumption. They did a version of this study in which for correct answers you got a dollar for each one and so by cheating you were stealing and the people who read the no free will passages then stole more often than the others. Then not long after, a friend of mine psychologist at Florida State University, Roy Baumeister did a similar study. What he did was to divide the subject pool into two groups and one group read passages saying that there's no free will and the other group read neutral passages, and then the next task was to serve snacks to people who were about to walk into the room and the subjects were told two things about these people who are going to walk in. One, they've all indicated that they really hate spicy food, and two, they have to eat everything you put on their plate and the group who read the no free will passages doled out way more of the spicy salsa option than the other group did. So, here again, lowering confidence apparently in free will increases misbehavior and the misbehavior in this case is aggressive behavior causing people pain and suffering by giving them food they don't like that they have to eat. So, that was my motivation really for starting to write on this topic. What I wanted to figure out was whether the studies, the scientific studies that are claimed to show that there's no free will, really do show that if not, why not? If so, why? Now, I'll start talking about the studies very shortly. I just need a little bit of terminology and I'll introduce that and then I'll get onto the first study. As I mentioned earlier, I'll talk about three different studies using three different kinds of technology. The terminology I need; Deciding. So, what is it to decide to do something? The way I think of it and the way the scientists I'll be talking about tend to think about, it is as follows; to decide to do something is to perform a little mental action, little momentary mental action of forming an intention to do it. So,deciding is active and it's active internally and what it is to form an intention to do a thing. Intentions you can understand as you like, turns out most people understand the word intention in basically the same way. Then among intentions and decisions we have what I call proximal ones and distal ones. A proximal intention, is an intention you have now to do a thing now, like an intention I have now to raise my hand now. A distal intention or decision is an intention or decision now to do something later. For example, I intend now to have an extra cold Guinness with dinner tonight. All of the studies I'll be talking about are about proximal or nearly proximal intentions and decisions.