Paying Attention to the Will: On the Neuroscience and Psychology of Self, Volition, and Character

in Habits in Mind
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Recent research into conscious control of action, also termed “volition” or “conscious will”, has opened up a debate over how much human beings have “conscious will,” and to what degree they can be held morally responsible for their actions. The present chapter explores recent findings regarding the neuroscience of volition and suggests some conclusions that do not completely rule out conscious volition. Instead, through exploring the neuroscience of the conscious “self” and reviewing recent research and their critiques, it suggests that the potential for conscious volition should be understood at a higher, aggregate level of overall character, providing guidance to lower-level, automatic decision-making processes. Further, and most importantly, it suggests that the faculty of attention, as a general stance to the world, is a key to understanding this enlarged concept of volition and essential to the formation of moral character over the human lifespan.

Habits in Mind

Integrating Theology, Philosophy, and the Cognitive Science of Virtue, Emotion, and Character Formation

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