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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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The Consciousness Thesis

The Consciousness Thesis

Chapter:
(p.14) 2 The Consciousness Thesis
Source:
Consciousness and Moral Responsibility
Author(s):

Neil Levy

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704638.003.0002

This chapter describes the scientific basis for the claim that consciousness is epiphenomenal, stemming from the work of Benjamin Libet and Daniel Wegner. It argues that the perceived challenge to responsibility is misplaced: it does not matter whether or not Libet and Wegner are right. The real question turns on the role that information plays in our cognition, not on questions concerning the timing of our conscious states. I then define the thesis to be defended in more detail: that consciousness of the facts that give to our actions their moral significance is a necessary condition of moral responsibility for those acts. It is emphasized that the consciousness at issue is an informational state, not phenomenal consciousness.

Keywords:   Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, epiphenomenalism, moral significance, phenomenal consciousness

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