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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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Action Projection

Action Projection

The authorship of one’s own action can be lost, projected away from self to other people or groups or even animals.

(p.177) 6 Action Projection
The Illusion of Conscious Will
Daniel M. Wegner
The MIT Press

This chapter considers the inclination that people have in certain circumstances to project actions they have caused onto plausible agents outside themselves. These outside agents can be imaginary, as when people attribute their actions to spirits or other entities. The focus in this chapter is the more observable case of action projection to agents who are real—individual persons, groups of people, or sometimes animals. When people impute their actions to such agents, they engage in a curious charade in which they behave on behalf of others or groups without knowing that they are actually causing what they see the agents are doing. It is important to understand how this can happen—how things people have done can escape their accounting efforts and seem to them to be authored by others outside themselves.

Keywords:   action projection, agents, individual persons, spirits, entities, others, causation

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