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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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Free Will: Theories, Analysis, and Data

Free Will: Theories, Analysis, and Data

(p.186) (p.187) 10 Free Will: Theories, Analysis, and Data
Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?

Alfred R. Mele

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the concepts that inform the recent experimental studies of intentional action. Drawing on a distinction between unconscious urge and conscious decision, it argues that the neural activity reported by Benjamin Libet may represent an urge to move rather than a decision to do so, and that the decision to move might be made only when the subject becomes conscious of the urge. In this case, Libet’s experiments do not threaten free will. The chapter describes two competing theories about the nature of free will and suggests that Libet’s results do not support his contention that “the brain decides to initiate or, at least, to prepare to initiate the act before there is any reportable subjective awareness that such a decision has taken place”.

Keywords:   intentional action, unconscious urge, conscious decision, neural activity, Benjamin Libet, free will, brain

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