Essay on Influence of Consciousness on the Actions of People

Essay on Influence of Consciousness on the Actions of People

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Mental processes have always been viewed as the key to unlocking further psychological information by philosophers and psychologists alike. By analyzing mental processes the notions of free will, desire, and the view of self can be further identified. Not willing to wait until such technology is developed that will easily be able to explain such information, Daniel Wegner a professor of psychology at Harvard has concluded through the use of his “I Spy” study that consciousness does not really have any influence or power of the actions of people. Contrastingly, a professor from Georgia State University by the name of Eddy Nahmias disagrees with Wegner and suggests that Wegner neither provides the correct type of evidence nor does Wegner distinguish between agency and authorship. Nahmias relies on empirical arguments to discredit Wegner’s conclusion that free will is an illusion.
Through a number of experiments Wegner tested his theory on the illusion of free will. In particular his “I Spy” study was the most successful for Wegner. In the “I Spy” study participants were led to believe that they had selected a certain object from a computer screen when in reality they had not. Wegner was able to have the participants do such a thing by getting the participants to think about the object a couple of seconds before they chose the object from the computer screen. The two participants would hear the names of a certain object when sitting at the screen of the computer which displayed a number of different objects. After listening to the name a certain object the participant was asked to stop the computer screen (from flipping through the objects) on any object they wanted. The participants are convinced that they chose the object themselv...


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...uthorship can be experienced by a number of different agents in different ways. In addition, Nahmias theorizes that even if Wegner was correct in his thoughts, and people were not agents as they thought they were, that people would still be authors of their mental states.
In all, despite his “I Spy” study and the number of conclusions that he is able to determine from it Wegner’s theories still came under fire from those in the psychological community such as Nahmias. Nahmias critical issues with Wegner’s conclusions stem from the lack of evidence that Wegner supplies as well as his failure to distinguish agency from authorship. Nahmias arguments show the importance of the free will debate among psychologists and philosophers alike. This debate is far from over and the influence of other contributing factors are destined to turn the debate into a prolonged battle.

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