How to Accept Wegner's Illusion of Conscious Will and Still Defend Moral Responsibility

Behavior and Philosophy 32 (2):479 - 491 (2004)
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Abstract

In "The Illusion of Conscious Will," Daniel Wegner (2002) argues that our commonsense belief that our conscious choices cause our voluntary actions is mistaken. Wegner cites experimental results that suggest that brain processes initiate our actions before we become consciously aware of our choices, showing that we are systematically wrong in thinking that we consciously cause our actions. Wegner's view leads him to conclude, among other things, that moral responsibility does not exist. In this article I propose some ways that traditional philosophical defenders of moral responsibility, both compatibilists and libertarians, might accept Wegner's empirical premise regarding the will but amend their theories so that they may reject his conclusion regarding moral responsibility.

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