Preserving the Role of Conscious Decision Making in the Initiation of Intentional Action

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Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to challenge the claim that the neural activity commonly referred to as 'readiness potential' constitutes evidence for the unconscious initiation of action. Although I accept that such neural activity seriously challenges the commonly held view that one's sense of volition is causally efficacious, I nevertheless contend that much of our everyday engagement with the world is consciously initiated. Thus, a distinction is made between awareness and what the awareness is of: the latter constituting the conscious decision to act in accordance with one's goal, or what I have termed intentional project. Initiation of an action in accordance with one's intentional project grounds the action in meaning, something that would be lacking in an exclusively unconscious decision to act.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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