Dual-system theory and the role of consciousness in intentional action

In Bernard Feltz, Marcus Missal & Andrew Sims (eds.), Free Will, Causality, and Neuroscience. Leiden: Brill Editions. pp. 35–56 (2019)
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According to the standard view in philosophy, intentionality is the mark of genuine action. In psychology, human cognition and agency are now widely explained in terms of the workings of two distinct systems (or types of processes), and intentionality is not a central notion in this dual-system theory. Further, it is often claimed, in psychology, that most human actions are automatic, rather than consciously controlled. This raises pressing questions. Does the dual-system theory preserve the philosophical account of intentional action? How much of our behavior is intentional according to this view? And what is the role of consciousness? I will propose here a revised account of intentional action within the dual-system framework, and we will see that most of our behavior can qualify as intentional, even if most of it is automatic. An important lesson will be that philosophical accounts of intentional action need to pay more attention to the role of consciousness in action.

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