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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 Mind’s Compass

The Mind’s Compass

Although the experience of conscious will is not evidence of mental causation, it does signal personal authorship of action to the individual and so influences both the sense of achievement and the acceptance of moral responsibility.

(p.301) 9 The Mind’s Compass
The Illusion of Conscious Will
Daniel M. Wegner
The MIT Press

This chapter analyzes why the conscious experience of will might exist at all. Conscious will can be seen as a feeling that organizes and informs one's understanding of their own agency. Conscious will is a signal with many of the qualities of an emotion, one that reverberates through the mind and body to indicate when a person senses having authored an action. The idea that conscious will is an emotion of authorship moves beyond the standard way in which people have been thinking about free will and determinism and presses toward a useful new perspective. The chapter explores how the emotion of authorship serves key functions in the domains of achievement and morality.

Keywords:   conscious will, agency, emotion, mind, body, authorship, action, free will, determinism, morality

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