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It has now been a decade since the publication of Daniel Wegner's The Illusion of Conscious Will. I read it when it was released but have not followed subsequent debate and developments. I would be interested to learn of substantive appraisals of the philosophical import of its arguments. Perhaps there is only tangential effect on the philosophy of mind? For, if I recall correctly, although he argued that conscious will was an illusion, he certainly allowed that unconscious processes/thoughts could be "implementing" free will, so-to-speak, and that conscious processes affect later unconscious processes. So his experiments and arguments do not entirely undermine free will.

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Eddie Nahmias commented in 2002: "When consciousness matters" philosophical Psychology vol 15(4) p527-554: "When all is said and done, Wegner has offered no evidence or arguments against this proposal: certain brain processes have the property of being consciously represented to the agent as mental states we describe as beliefs, desires, intentions and actions (for instance, my brain is currently going through the processes which I experience as something like 'I think this proposal makes sense'. 'Type out the words, 'This proposal makes sense.' ' and so on). How it is that these brain processes have these experiential properties is currently a mystery (That is the hard problem of consciousness). But if these processes did not have their representational properties then they would not have the causal powers they have (for instance they would not allow me as much flexibility to inhibit or adjust my actions). Hence my conscious experiences have important causal influences on my actions." There is a paper online by M Sharlow: http://www.eskimo.com/~msharlow/papers/conscious_will.pdf I also comment in my e-book "Rethinking the Mind"

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    @JosephO'Rourke, The argument of user4112 is: There is no evidence against that certain brain processes have the property of being consciously represented to the agent as mental states we describe as beliefs, desires, intentions and actions. If these processes did not have their representational properties then they would not have the causal powers they have. Hence my conscious experiences have important causal influences. Sorry, but why this argument can not be accused of "argument from Ignorance" and "begging the question" fallacies? – Annotations Jul 23 '13 at 15:30
  • Not addressing either this answer or the comment directly, let me mention that one point Wegner concedes is that our sense that we have willed an action is a strong (but not infallible) indicator that we were in fact the agent of that action. – Joseph O'Rourke Jul 23 '13 at 16:18
  • @JosephO'Rourke Why Wegner see will as a causal force if it isn't necessarily conscious, is beyond me. If will isn't conscious it isn't will. – Annotations Jul 23 '13 at 18:08
  • @Ricardo: I am not sure that he does see will as a causal force. He views unconscious forces as the causal link, and our sense of will a reaction to those unconscious forces. Or so I remember... – Joseph O'Rourke Jul 23 '13 at 18:11

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