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The Illusion of Conscious Will$
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Daniel M. Wegner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262534925

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262534925.001.0001

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The Illusion

The Illusion

It usually seems that we consciously will our voluntary actions, but this is an illusion.

(p.1) 1The Illusion
The Illusion of Conscious Will
Daniel M. Wegner
The MIT Press

This chapter discusses how the idea of conscious will and the idea of psychological mechanisms have an oil and water relationship, having never been properly reconciled. One way to put them together is to say that the mechanistic approach is the explanation preferred for scientific purposes, but that the person's experience of conscious will is utterly convincing and important to the person and so must be understood scientifically as well. The chapter states that conscious will is an illusion in the sense that the experience of consciously willing an action is not a direct indication that the conscious thought has caused the action. It also shows that the mechanisms underlying the experience of will are themselves a fundamental topic of scientific study.

Keywords:   conscious will, psychological mechanisms, scientific study, illusion, action, conscious thought

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