Consciousness, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility: Taking the Folk Seriously

Philosophical Psychology:1-18 (forthcoming)
In this paper I offer evidence that folk views of free will and moral responsibility accord a central place to consciousness. In sections 2 and 3 I contrast action production via conscious states and processes with action in concordance with an agent’s long-standing and endorsed motivations, values, and character traits. Results indicate that conscious action production is considered much more important for free will than is concordance with motivations, values, and character traits. In section 4 I contrast the absence or presence of consciousness in behaviorally identical agents. Most participants attribute free will to conscious agents, but not to nonconscious agents. Focusing in particular on two leading views of free will and moral responsibility, namely, Deep Self and Reasons-Responsive Views, I argue these results present philosophers of mind and action with the following explanatory burden: develop a substantive theory of the connection between consciousness on the one hand and free will and moral responsibility on the other that takes folk views on this connection seriously.
Keywords Experimental Philosophy  Consciousness  Free Will
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Timothy O'Connor, Free Will. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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