Consciousness, Free Will, and the Explanation of Human Behavior

Author: Wilton, Richard
This book describes a theory of human behavior in which consciousness plays a role in the production of behavior. The assumption that behaviour is to be explained solely by reference to causal process is rejected, and, instead, it is supposed that human beings adaptively exercise free will. This supposition is articulated using a number of novel concepts, which play a critical role in accounting for consciousness. Additional implications of the theory, concerning intentionality and the occurrence of affect are explored, and it is suggested that the theory ties these and consciousness together.


"Wilton's book makes a highly original and comprehensive theoretical contribution to the study of the mind-body problem…. It is splendidly rich in detail and breadth. . . a new taxonomy is created and employed to explain how perceptions and attitudes interact with 'agency' to permit free will to be adaptively exercised in an otherwise mechanistic universe. Scholars and students who are interested in the philosophy of mind should find this work to be innovative, thought provoking, and something of a master-work in the incorporation of relevant work in physics, philosophy, and psychology. Wilton's book presents an important overview, coupled with an original synthesis." – Dan B. Dydek

"This book provides a bold challenge to the long-held acceptance of traditional scientific accounts of human behaviour. It will appeal to mature readers with an interest in any or all of the issues raised or anyone who has ever pondered on the existence of consciousness, intention, or free will." – Arlene J. Astell

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings): Preface 1. Aims and Methods 2. What Science Tells Us: Observation as a means of classifying the world; What 19th century science seems to tell us; What 20th century science tell us – quantum mechanics; The larger picture 3. The Basic Idea: The problem of consciousness; Two incompatible accounts of behaviour; Empirical tests of the theory; Objections 4. Perception: The representational format; Instantiation by sensations 5. The Larger Theory: A mechanistic account of behaviour; The assumption of free will; Other issues; Conclusion 6. Motivation: The concept of motivation; Motivation as contrasted with causal role; Motivated transformations; Cause and effect account of behaviour 7. Some Additional Predictions: Concerning perception; Concerning the cognitive map; Mental problem solving; Cause and effect accounts of behaviour References: Name index