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Consciousness and Moral Responsibility$
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Neil Levy

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704638

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704638.001.0001

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Does Consciousness Matter?

Does Consciousness Matter?

(p.1) 1 Does Consciousness Matter?
Consciousness and Moral Responsibility

Neil Levy

Oxford University Press

This chapter briefly reviews some of the scientific evidence that consciousness plays a smaller role in action than we normally assume, focusing on some of the pathologies of consciousness and evidence from social psychology. It then turns to recent developments in moral philosophy which downplay the importance of consciousness. According to the influential views of philosophers like Nomy Arpaly, George Sher, and Angela Smith, we need not be conscious of what we are doing or why we are doing it in order to be responsible for our actions. Together, the scientific and philosophical work constitute a powerful challenge to the claim that consciousness is a necessary condition of moral responsibility.

Keywords:   Social psychology, pathologies of consciousness, Nomy Arpaly, George Sher, Angela Smith

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