Neurosciences of action and noncausal theories

Philosophical Psychology 20 (3):367–374 (2007)
Abstract
Recent neuroscience and psychology of behavior have suggested that conscious decisions may have no causal role in the etiology of intentional action. Such results pose a threat to traditional philosophical analyses of action. On such views beliefs, desires and conscious willing are part of the causal structure of intentional action. But if the suggestions from neuroscience/psychology are correct, analyses of this kind are wrong. Conscious antecedents of action are epiphenomenal. This essay explores this consequence. It also notes that the traditional alternative to causal analyses of intentional action is not threatened by the putative scientific findings. This, in turn, is ironic in that defenders of the noncausal accounts of action were thought to be in opposition to the natural sciences of action whereas the analyses in the causal style were "on the side of physicalism." This result is also assessed in what follows
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    T. J. Bittner (1996). Consciousness and the Act of Will. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):31-41.

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