How are arbitrary and deliberate decisions similar and different?

Jye lyn Bold, Liad Mudrik, Uri Maoz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The Libet experiments investigated arbitrary decisions, though their results were long assumed to generalize to deliberate ones too. This has launched a debate, which is ongoing, regarding whether there are differences in the neural mechanisms underlying arbitrary and deliberate decisions. The debate thus directly relates to the extent to which the Libet results can be generalized beyond arbitrary decisions. Several studies provide conflicting support for the generalizability of the readiness potential (RP) from arbitrary to deliberate decisions. Some found similarities between the neural correlates of actions following arbitrary and deliberate decisions; others found differences. This chapter describes those studies and discusses how to potentially reconcile these conflicting results.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFree Will
Subtitle of host publicationPhilosophers and Neuroscientists in Conversation
EditorsUri Maoz, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197572153
StatePublished - 2022


  • arbitrary decisions
  • deliberate decisions
  • neural mechanisms
  • readiness potential
  • conscious experience


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