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Unformatted text preview: • We don't cause our actions, we merely think we do. November 6, 2012: Conscious Willing and Science Aim: To evaluate purported scientific evidence in support of the claim that the experience of conscious willing is illusory. (We don't cause our actions; it only appears to us that we do) Compatibilism Beliefs, desires, and intentions → mechanism → actions • Reasons-responsive: “a mechanism that is activated by the agent's own goals and desires” (174) • freedom exists in the world by defining a mechanism Libertarianism Beliefs, desires, and intentions → mechanism → actions • choice is an indeterministic capacity Common ground between compatibilists and libertarianists 1. Reasons influence actions (or actions are sensitive to reasons, beliefs, desires, etc.) 2. Agents are able to weigh their desires and intentions 3. Agents are able to choose which action they will perform. Do we have reasons to think that claims 1-3 are false? If it is true that conscious willing is illusory, then: • Reasons do not influence actions (or actions are not sensitive to reasons, beliefs, desires, etc.). • Agents are neither able to weight their desires and intentions nor able to reevaluate their goals. • Agents are not able to choose which action they will perform. Evidence that conscious willing is illusory Confabulations (made-up story) • Agents confabulate rational explanations as to why they performed an actions, even though they did not cause that actions. • The action was the product either of electrical stimulation or of external (magnetic) stimulation of the motor-control area of the brain. Timing Studies • The urge or wish to act (the conscious will) is consistently preceded by increased brain activity • The conscious will is not the cause of our actions • “...'conscious will' is not the initiator of voluntary action but instead a consequence of an unconscious physical process that also (and according to some hypotheses, independently) triggers the action” (176) Clinical Mental Disorders • Alien hand syndrome or schizophrenia • “In both kinds of cases, agents are action purposively and under no discernible control by an external agent or source, yet they lack, in some sense, the feeling of being the authors of their actions” (176) • what these cases show: the experience of conscious will is not the perception of causal link or force Social Psychology • Agents are susceptible to the inducement of false beliefs regarding one's agency. We think that we have intentionally caused an action, when in face we did not. (Wegner) • Situational factors influence our behavior in ways that we are not conscious. Evaluation of the evidence Confabulations What do confabulations show?...
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