Monday, March 14, 2005

Wegner and Will

An interesting paper by Tim Bayne (PDF; via OPP) on Wegner's claim (in The Illusion of Conscious Will) that conscious will is an illusion. For my part I'm a bit puzzled though. It has been several months since I read Wegner's book (which is quite an interesting book). But I don't recall him arguing for the claim that conscious will is an illusion in the book. He does gesture at argument (e.g., by citing Dennett) and some of the phenomena he considers might be used as part of an argument for such a claim, but as I recall the book, Wegner largely just takes it for granted that conscious will is an illusion. His argument is not for this claim, but for the claim that even people who consider conscious will an illusion can find the phenomena of conscious will to be an interesting and fruitful field of scientific study. And his argument for this claim, I think, is quite excellent. But everyone else seems to read Wegner as arguing for the claim that conscious will is an illusion, which suggests that perhaps I just missed something in my reading.

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