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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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The Phenomenology of Agency and the Libet Results

The Phenomenology of Agency and the Libet Results

Chapter:
(p.159) Chapter 14 The Phenomenology of Agency and the Libet Results
Source:
Conscious Will and Responsibility
Author(s):

Terry Horgan (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381641.003.0015

This chapter focuses on the phenomenal character of agentive experience—i.e., what it is like to experience oneself as the conscious author of one's behavior. Experiences with this distinctive kind of “what-it's-like-ness,” have representational content—i.e., they represent oneself, to oneself, as willfully generating one's actions. This chapter argues that the representational content of act-commencement experience, as determined by the phenomenal character of such experience, is quite compatible with the possibility that action-triggering neural activity in the motor cortex is already occurring at a point in time prior to the onset of the experience of conscious act-commencement; hence, even if one were to grant that the work of Libet and others really does establish that the acts experienced as willfully produced are causally initiated by brain-events that occur prior to the experienced onset of act-commencement, this presumptive fact would not show that the experience of conscious will is an illusion.

Keywords:   agentive experience, conscious will, act-commencement, Benjamin Libet, what-it's-like-ness, representational content

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