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Conscious Will and ResponsibilityA Tribute to Benjamin Libet$
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Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.001.0001

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Volition and the Function of Consciousness

Volition and the Function of Consciousness

(p.109) Chapter 10 Volition and the Function of Consciousness
Conscious Will and Responsibility

Tashina L. Graves

Brian Maniscalco

Hakwan Lau

Oxford University Press

Many acts of volition seem to require conscious effort. We consciously initiate spontaneous motor movements. We cancel planned actions at will. We deliberately avoid particular actions. We intentionally shift our action plans in order to pursue different goals. Sometimes, theorists say, these are the functions of consciousness, as if evolution has equipped us with the gift of consciousness just to perform these acts. Without consciousness, presumably, we would only be able to perform much simpler actions that are no more sophisticated than embellished reflexes. This chapter reviews available evidence to see if these intuitive claims are empirically supported. It discusses what is logically required for an experiment to demonstrate the true function of consciousness.

Keywords:   consciousness, volition, cognitive control, vetoing, actions

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