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Does Consciousness Cause Behaviour?

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The prevailing folk-psychology of modern Western humans holds that (1) an individual person or self can be identified with that individual’s consciousness and thus that (2) consciousness can cause behaviour. In this paper I assemble a body of experimental and philosophical evidence suggesting that both of these beliefs might be mistaken. I discuss some of the practical and philosophical implications of the idea that consciousness does not in fact cause behaviour and conclude that it is not only a serious academic possibility but also an (almost) intuitively acceptable idea that consciousness may be epiphenomenal.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Physics, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand., Email:

Publication date: January 1, 2004


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