Distributed Cognition and the Will

Individual Volition and Social Context

Recent scientific findings about human decision making would seem to threaten the traditional concept of the individual conscious will. The will is threatened from “below” by the discovery that our apparently spontaneous actions are actually controlled and initiated from below the level of our conscious awareness, and from “above” by the recognition that we adapt our actions according to social dynamics of which we are seldom aware. In Distributed Cognition and the Will, leading philosophers and behavioral scientists consider how much, if anything, of the traditional concept of the individual conscious will survives these discoveries, and they assess the implications for our sense of freedom and responsibility. The contributors all take science seriously, and they are inspired by the idea that apparent threats to the cogency of the idea of will might instead become the basis of its reemergence as a scientific subject. They consider macro-scale issues of society and culture, the micro-scale dynamics of the mind/brain, and connections between macro-scale and micro-scale phenomena in the self-guidance and self-regulation of personal behavior.

Contributors: George Ainslie, Wayne Christensen, Andy Clark, Paul Sheldon Davies, Daniel C. Dennett, Lawrence A. Lengbeyer, Dan Lloyd, Philip Pettit, Don Ross, Tamler Sommers, Betsy Sparrow, Mariam Thalos, Jeffrey B. Vancouver, Daniel M. Wegner, Tadeusz W. Zawidzki

Table of Contents

  1. Contents
  2. Contributors
  3. 1. Introduction: Science Catches the Will

    Don Ross

  4. 2. The Puzzle of Coaction

    Daniel M. Wegner and Betsy Sparrow

  5. 3. What Kind of Agent Are We? A Naturalistic Framework for the Study of Human Agency

    Paul Sheldon Davies

  6. 4. The Illusion of Freedom Evolves

    Tamler Sommers

  7. 5. Neuroscience and Agent-Control

    Philip Pettit

  8. 6. My Body Has a Mind of Its Own

    Daniel C. Dennett

  9. 7. Soft Selves and Ecological Control

    Andy Clark

  10. 8. The Sources of Behavior: Toward a Naturalistic, Control Account of Agency

    Mariam Thalos

  11. 9. Thought Experiments That Explore Where Controlled Experiments Can't: The Example of Will

    George Ainslie

  12. 10. The Economic and Evolutionary Basis of Selves

    Don Ross

  13. 11. Situated Cognition: The Perspect Model

    Lawrence Lengbeyer

  14. 12. The Evolutionary Origins of Volition

    Wayne Christensen

  15. 13. What Determines the Self in Self-Regulation? Applied Psychology's Struggle with Will

    Jeffrey B. Vancouver and Tadeusz W. Zawidzki

  16. 14. Civil Schizophrenia

    Dan Lloyd

  17. Index