We know reliably and immediately when acting and deciding freely, instead of being coerced. But how do we know? A common answer posits something in our experience that signals us when we are free--some extra phenomenological ingredient that is present in free behavior and absent in coercion. This chapter argues that the exact opposite is true. There is no specific feeling associated with free action or decision, whereas there are various phenomenological correlates of coercion, and the absence of the latter is enough to consider ourselves free. In free action and decision we experience something less, not more, than in coercion. On this default view, we assume all our actions and decisions to be free, unless we experience otherwise. This nicely fits empirical evidence and evolutionary hypotheses on agency and may extend to other facets of the notoriously "thin" phenomenology of agency, namely, sense of authorship and control.
There's nothing like being free: Default dispositions, judgments of freedom, and the phenomenology of coercion
Contributo in volume
Oxford University Press, Oxford, GBR
Decomposing the Will, edited by Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein, Tillmann Vierkant, pp. 136–159. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013