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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Decomposing the Will - Book Review

Andy Clark, Julian Kiverstein, and Tillmann Vierkant (eds.), Decomposing the Will, Oxford University Press, 2013, 356pp., $74.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199746996.

Reviewed by Marcela Herdova, King's College London

Decomposing the Will is a collection of 17 papers that examine recent developments in cognitive sciences in relation to claims about conscious agency (or lack thereof) and the implications of these findings for the free will debate. The overarching theme of the volume is exploring conscious will as "decomposed" into interrelated functions. The volume has four sections. Part 1 surveys scientific research that has been taken by many to support what the editors refer to as "the zombie challenge". The zombie challenge stems from claims about the limited role of consciousness in ordinary behavior. If conscious control is required for free will, this recent scientific research, which challenges conscious efficacy, also undermines free will. In part 2, authors explore various layers of the sense of agency. Part 3 investigates how to use both phenomenology and science to address the zombie challenge and discusses a variety of possible functions for conscious control. Part 4 offers decomposed accounts of the will.

Due to limitations of space, I will offer extended discussion of only a handful of papers. I provide a brief description for the remaining papers.

The entire book review is here.
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