Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The role of consciousness in action
Author: Pierce, Bryony
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 4514
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2015
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
This dissertation presents a naturalistic account of the relation between consciousness and action, arguing that one fundamental function of consciousness in action production is to act as an interface between the cognitive and motivational systems. Another is to ground reasons for action. These two functions are necessary for rational goal-directed action. I present three interrelated strands in support of my claims: (l) a rejection of the usefulness of the notion of free will when discussing the role of consciousness in action; (2) the defence of an interface theory of consciousness, in which reasons for action are grounded in affective valence; and (3) the proposal of a revised taxonomy of action, in which the notion of free will is redundant and all action is a kind of reaction. I begin by arguing that libertarian and compatibilist free will are unhelpful notions within the context of the research question and establishing that goal-directed action, rather than free action, is a philosophically interesting category of behaviour. I then present empirical evidence in support of Hedonic Interface Theory. According to this account, consciousness, or some functional equivalent, is necessary to enable goal-directedness, and reasons for action are grounded in biological utility. My additional philosophical argument - that reasons for action are grounded in the phenomenal character of affective valence - supports the stronger claim that consciousness is not epiphenomenal. I also give a naturalistic account of the normativity of reasons for action. Finally, I argue that a revised taxonomy of action is needed and propose that all action should be viewed as a kind of first- or higher-order reaction, discussing the consequences of this for our understanding of conscious control of action.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available