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Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?$
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Susan Pockett, William P. Banks, and Shaun Gallagher

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780262162371

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262162371.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.viii) (p.1) Introduction
Source:
Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?
Author(s):

Susan Pockett

William P. Bank

Shaun Gallagher

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262162371.003.0001

The notion that consciousness does not cause voluntary behavior in humans has found support in William James and Sigmund Freud. In his 1890 classic The Principles of Psychology, James argued against what he terms “the automaton theory” proposed by Thomas Huxley, who compared mental events to a steam whistle that does not contribute anything to the work of a locomotive. Meanwhile, Freud suggested that consciousness has nothing to do with much of our everyday behavior. This book examines two recent lines of evidence suggesting that consciousness in fact causes human behavior: one ascribed to Benjamin Libet and the other to Daniel Wegner. It considers an empirical model that explains how the brain causes behavior; the philosophical presuppositions that have informed the empirical studies of motor control, action, and intention; the concepts of free will and conscious efficacy; and the legal, social, and moral judgments of responsibility and blame. The book also offers a sociological analysis of a public debate that has taken place in Germany regarding the link between consciousness and behavior.

Keywords:   consciousness, human behavior, Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, brain, free will, responsibility, blame, motor control, intention

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