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Preconscious Free Will

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Abstract:

This paper responds to continuing commentary on Velmans (2002a) 'How could conscious experiences affect brains', a target article for a special issue of JCS. I focus on the final question dealt with by the target article: how free will relates to preconscious and conscious mental processing, and I develop the case for preconscious free will. Although 'preconscious free will' might appear to be a contradiction in terms, it is consistent with the scientific evidence and provides a parsimonious way to reconcile the commonsense view that voluntary acts are freely chosen with the evidence that conscious wishes and decisions are determined by preconscious processing in the mind/brain. I consider alternative interpretations of how 'conscious free will' might operate by Libet and by Mangan and respond to doubts about the extent to which the operations of mind are revealed in consciousness, raised by Claxton and Bouratinos. In reconciling commonsense attributions of freedom and responsibility with the findings of science, preconscious free will can be shown to have practical consequences for adjudications in law.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2003

imp/jcs/2003/00000010/00000012/1398
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