Consciousness and Moral Responsibility by Neil Levy

By Neil Levy

Neil Levy provides an unique concept of freedom and accountability. Cognitive neuroscience and psychology offer loads of facts that our activities are usually formed by means of info of which we're not wakeful; a few psychologists have concluded that we're truly aware of only a few of the proof we reply to. yet most folk appear to think that we have to be all ears to the evidence we reply to on the way to be liable for what we do. a few thinkers have argued that this naive assumption is incorrect, and we'd like no longer be all ears to those evidence to be accountable, whereas others imagine it truly is right and accordingly we're by no means accountable. Levy argues that either perspectives are improper. He units out and defends a specific account of consciousness--the international workspace view--and argues this account involves that recognition performs an extremely very important function in motion. We workout adequate keep watch over over the ethical value of our acts to be answerable for them merely once we are aware of the proof that supply to our activities their ethical personality. additional, our activities are expressive of who we're as ethical brokers basically once we are aware of those similar evidence. There are consequently solid purposes to imagine that the naive assumption, that awareness is required for ethical accountability, is in truth actual. Levy means that this includes that individuals are dependable much less usually than we would have idea, however the realization doesn't entail that we're by no means morally in charge.

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The first is simply that the twin challenges from neuroscience and social psych­ ology adverted to are not very substantial. Though both Libet (and the neuroscientists who have built on his work) and Wegner have made important contributions to the understanding of agency through their The Consciousness Thesis 15 scientific work, this work does not, despite what they and many oth­ ers have thought, amount to a substantive challenge to any interesting consciousness thesis. The second reason is that the focus of the chal­ lenge (such as it is) is different to the focus of this book: the conscious­ ness thesis they have been taken to challenge is a different thesis to the one I have in mind.

I do not mean to take a stand on these debates (though I can’t resist noting that the identification of ‘consciousness’ with a functional notion has an impeccable pedigree, inasmuch as Freud seems never to be concerned with phenom­ enal consciousness). My claim here is only that what is at issue in debates over moral responsibility is whether agents must have a certain kind of access to a certain kind of content in order to be morally responsible. There may be a terminological issue con­ cerning whether an agent who has this kind of access is thereby conscious of the rele­ vant content, and there may be a substantive issue over whether an agent who has this kind of access is (phenomenally) conscious of that content.

There is independent evidence that experienced temporal properties do not always precisely match actual temporal properties: experienced time can be referred backwards, so that the temporal ordering of events can be reversed in experience. For example, in the color phi phenomenon, two differently colored lights are presented to a subject in quick suc­ cession, at different locations. The subject reports seeing the dot move from the first location to the second, changing color about halfway. This event—the change of color—is experienced as occuring prior to the experience of the second dot.

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