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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 Experience of Will

The Experience of Will

The experience of conscious will arises when we infer that our conscious intention has caused our voluntary action, although both intention and action are themselves caused by mental processes that do not feel willed.

Chapter:
(p.59) 3 The Experience of Will
Source:
The Illusion of Conscious Will
Author(s):
Daniel M. Wegner
Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262534925.003.0003

This chapter talks about how the experience of will could be a result of the same mental processes that people use in the perception of causality more generally—this can be referred to as the theory of apparent mental causation. This means that people experience conscious will quite independently of any actual causal connection between their thoughts and their actions. Reductions in the impression that there is a link between thought and action may explain why people get a sense of involuntariness even for actions that are voluntary. Whereas inflated perceptions of the link between thought and action may, in turn, explain why people experience an illusion of conscious will at all.

Keywords:   will, mental processes, causality, apparent mental causation, thoughts, actions, inflated perceptions

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