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The Phenomenology of Agency

Philosophy Compass 3 (1):182-202 (2008)

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  1. The Role of Consciousness in Grasping and Understanding.David Bourget - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (2):285-318.
    One sometimes believes a proposition without grasping it. For example, a complete achromat might believe that ripe tomatoes are red without grasping this proposition. My aim in this paper is to shed light on the difference between merely believing a proposition and grasping it. I focus on two possible theories of grasping: the inferential theory, which explains grasping in terms of inferential role, and the phenomenal theory, which explains grasping in terms of phenomenal consciousness. I argue that the phenomenal theory (...)
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  • On a Neglected Aspect of Agentive Experience.Andrew Sims - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1313-1330.
    There is an argument for incompatibilism that is based on the experience of agency. Authors who endorse this argument place pro tanto evidential weight on one or more of two putative aspects of the experience of being an agent: i) the experience of being the causal source of our actions; ii) the experience of having robust alternative possibilities available to one. With some exceptions, these authors and their critics alike neglect a third significant aspect of the experience of agency: iii) (...)
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  • Control Consciousness.Pete Mandik - 2010 - Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (4):643-657.
    Control consciousness is the awareness or experience of seeming to be in control of one’s actions. One view, which I will be arguing against in the present paper, is that control consciousness is a form of sensory consciousness. In such a view, control consciousness is exhausted by sensory elements such as tactile and proprioceptive information. An opposing view, which I will be arguing for, is that sensory elements cannot be the whole story and must be supplemented by direct contributions of (...)
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  • The Sense of Agency and the Epistemology of Thinking.Casey Doyle - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    This paper motivates a constraint on how to explain the “sense of agency” for conscious thinking. It argues that a prominent model fails to satisfy the constraint before sketching an alternative that does. On the alternative, punctate acts of conscious thinking, such as episodes of inner speech, are recognizable as our deeds because they are recognizable as parts of complex cognitive activities, which we know non-observationally in virtue of holding intentions to perform them.
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  • No Self and the Phenomenology of Agency.Monima Chadha - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (2):187-205.
    The Buddhists philosophers put forward a revisionary metaphysics which lacks a “self” in order to provide an intellectually and morally preferred picture of the world. The first task in the paper is to answer the question: what is the “self” that the Buddhists are denying? To answer this question, I look at the Abhidharma arguments for the No-Self doctrine and then work back to an interpretation of the self that is the target of such a doctrine. I argue that Buddhists (...)
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  • Moral Experience: Its Existence, Describability, and Significance.Uriah Kriegel - 2020 - In C. Erhard and T. Keiling (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 396-411.
    One of the newest research areas in moral philosophy is moral phenomenology: the dedicated study of the experiential dimension of moral mental life. The idea has been to bring phenomenological evidence to bear on some central issues in metaethics and moral psychology, such as cognitivism and noncognitivism about moral judgment, motivational internalism and externalism, and so on. However, moral phenomenology faces certain foundational challenges, pertaining especially to the existence, describability, and importance of its subject matter. This paper addresses these foundational (...)
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  • Cotard Syndrome, Self-Awareness, and I-Concepts.Rocco Joseph Gennaro - 2020 - Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 1 (1):1-20.
    Various psychopathologies of self-awareness, such as somatoparaphrenia and thought insertion in schizophrenia, might seem to threaten the viability of the higher-order thought (HOT) theory of consciousness since it requires a HOT about one’s own mental state to accompany every conscious state. The HOT theory of consciousness says that what makes a mental state a conscious mental state is that there is a HOT to the effect that “I am in mental state M.” I have argued in previous work that a (...)
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  • Just Doing What I Do: On the Awareness of Fluent Agency.James M. Dow - 2017 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 16 (1):155-177.
    Hubert Dreyfus has argued that cases of absorbed bodily coping show that there is no room for self-awareness in flow experiences of experts. In this paper, I argue against Dreyfus’ maxim of vanishing self-awareness by suggesting that awareness of agency is present in expert bodily action. First, I discuss the phenomenon of absorbed bodily coping by discussing flow experiences involved in expert bodily action: merging into the flow; immersion in the flow; emergence out of flow. I argue against the claim (...)
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  • Free Will Experiences and Higher-Order Thoughts.Kyle Alan Hale - unknown
    A naturalist wanting to understand our conscious experience of free will may find it difficult to judge exactly what content is present in that experience. I provide an approach for how naturalistic theories of consciousness can be used to go about that, and then I apply David Rosenthal’s HOT theory to that approach. After explaining HOT theory’s framework, I review the literature on the experience of free will in order to identify which items of content of the experience are libertarian (...)
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  • Agent Causation and the Phenomenology of Agency.Randolph Clarke - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):747-764.
    Several philosophers claim that the phenomenology of one’s own agency conflicts with standard causal theories of action, couched in terms of causation by mental events or states. Others say that the phenomenology is prima facie incompatible with such a theory, even if in the end a reconciliation can be worked out. Here it is argued that the type of action theory in question is consistent with what can plausibly be said to be presented to us in our experience of our (...)
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  • Is Agentive Experience Compatible with Determinism?Oisín Deery - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (1):2-19.
    Many philosophers think not only that we are free to act otherwise than we do, but also that we experience being free in this way. Terry Horgan argues that such experience is compatibilist: it is accurate even if determinism is true. According to Horgan, when people judge their experience as incompatibilist, they misinterpret it. While Horgan's position is attractive, it incurs significant theoretical costs. I sketch an alternative way to be a compatibilist about experiences of free agency that avoids these (...)
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  • Subjectivity as Self-Acquaintance.Matt Duncan - 2018 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 25 (3-4):88-111.
    Subjectivity is that feature of consciousness whereby there is something it is like for a subject to undergo an experience. One persistent challenge in the study of consciousness is to explain how subjectivity relates to, or arises from, purely physical brain processes. But, in order to address this challenge, it seems we must have a clear explanation of what subjectivity is in the first place. This has proven challenging in its own right. For the nature of subjectivity itself seems to (...)
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  • Causation and Observation.Helen Beebee - 2009 - In Helen Beebee, Christopher Hitchcock & Peter Menzies (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Causation. Oxford University Press.
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  • The Nature of Cognitive Phenomenology.Declan Smithies - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (8):744-754.
    This is the first in a series of two articles that serve as an introduction to recent debates about cognitive phenomenology. Cognitive phenomenology can be defined as the experience that is associated with cognitive activities, such as thinking, reasoning, and understanding. What is at issue in contemporary debates is not the existence of cognitive phenomenology, so defined, but rather its nature and theoretical role. The first article examines questions about the nature of cognitive phenomenology, while the second article explores the (...)
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  • Visually Perceiving the Intentions of Others.Grace Helton - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (271):243-264.
    I argue that we sometimes visually perceive the intentions of others. Just as we can see something as blue or as moving to the left, so too can we see someone as intending to evade detection or as aiming to traverse a physical obstacle. I consider the typical subject presented with the Heider and Simmel movie, a widely studied ‘animacy’ stimulus, and I argue that this subject mentally attributes proximal intentions to some of the objects in the movie. I further (...)
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  • Transhumanism and the Transformation of the Experience and Spectacle in the Art of Boxing.Gerard James Brady - 2018 - Dissertation, University of Glasgow
    Going beyond the biological and physiological limitations imposed on us by the human body is something which the human race has strived to do throughout its history. There is something about our human nature that compels us to strive for improvement and enhancement in our physical and mental performance, and to stretch ever further the boundaries of human accomplishment. Nowhere can a stronger desire for enhanced performance be found than in the realm of competitive sport and, it is certainly arguable (...)
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  • The Phenomenology of Choice.Emmanuel Baierlé - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Fribourg
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  • Self‐Agency.Elisabeth Pacherie - 2010 - In Shaun Gallagher (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Self. Oxford University Press.
    We are perceivers, we are thinkers, and we are also agents, bringing about physical events, such as bodily movements and their consequences. What we do tells us, and others, a lot about who we are. On the one hand, who we are determines what we do. On the other hand, acting is also a process of self-discovery and self-shaping. Pivotal to this mutual shaping of self and agency is the sense of agency, or agentive self-awareness, i.e., the sense that one (...)
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  • Kant’s and Husserl’s Agentive and Proprietary Accounts of Cognitive Phenomenology.Julia Jansen - 2016 - Philosophical Explorations 19 (2):161-172.
    In this paper, I draw from Kantian and Husserlian reflections on the self-awareness of thinking for a contribution to the cognitive phenomenology debate. In particular, I draw from Kant’s conceptions of inner sense and apperception, and from Husserl’s notions of lived experience and self-awareness for an inquiry into the nature of our awareness of our own cognitive activity. With particular consideration of activities of attention, I develop what I take to be Kant’s and Husserl’s “agentive” and “proprietary” accounts. These, I (...)
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  • Hume and the Phenomenology of Agency.Joshua M. Wood - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):496-517.
    Some philosophers argue that Hume, given his theory of causation, is committed to an implausibly thin account of what it is like to act voluntarily. Others suggest, on the basis of his argument against free will, that Hume takes no more than an illusory feature of action to distinguish the experience of performing an act from the experience of merely observing an act. In this paper, I argue that Hume is committed to neither an unduly parsimonious nor a sceptical account (...)
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  • Perception and Non-Inferential Knowledge of Action.Thor Grünbaum - 2011 - Philosophical Explorations 14 (2):153 - 167.
    I present an account of how agents can know what they are doing when they intentionally execute object-oriented actions. When an agent executes an object-oriented intentional action, she uses perception in such a way that it can fulfil a justificatory role for her knowledge of her own action and it can fulfil this justificatory role without being inferentially linked to the cognitive states that it justifies. I argue for this proposal by meeting two challenges: in an agent's knowledge of her (...)
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  • Schizophrenia and the Estranged Self.Jordi Fernández & Suzanne Bliss - 2016 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 22 (4):615-621.
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  • Conscious Intending as Self-Programming.Marc Slors - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (1):94-113.
    Despite the fact that there is considerable evidence against the causal efficacy of proximal (short-term) conscious intentions, many studies confirm our commonsensical belief in the efficacy of more distal (longer-term) conscious intentions. In this paper, I address two questions: (i) What, if any, is the difference between the role of consciousness in effective and in non-effective conscious intentions? (ii) How do effective conscious distal intentions interact with unconscious processes in producing actions, and how do non-effective proximal intentions fit into this (...)
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  • DBS and Autonomy: Clarifying the Role of Theoretical Neuroethics.Peter Zuk & Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz - forthcoming - Neuroethics:1-11.
    In this article, we sketch how theoretical neuroethics can clarify the concept of autonomy. We hope that this can both serve as a model for the conceptual clarification of other components of PIAAAS and contribute to the development of the empirical measures that Gilbert and colleagues [1] propose.
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  • Narrators and Comparators: The Architecture of Agentive Self-Awareness. [REVIEW]Tim Bayne & Elisabeth Pacherie - 2007 - Synthese 159 (3):475 - 491.
    This paper contrasts two approaches to agentive self-awareness: a high-level, narrative-based account, and a low-level comparator-based account. We argue that an agent's narrative self-conception has a role to play in explaining their agentive judgments, but that agentive experiences are explained by low-level comparator mechanisms that are grounded in the very machinery responsible for action-production.
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  • Representing the Agent Through Second-Order States.David A. Jensen - 2013 - Philosophical Psychology 26 (1):69 - 88.
    Some recent views of action have claimed that a correct conceptual account of action must include second-order motivational states. This follows from the fact that first-order motivational states such as desires account for action or mere behavior in which the agent's participation is lacking; thus, first-order motivational states cannot by themselves account for action in which the agent participates, so-called full-blooded action. I argue that representing the agent's participation by means of second-order states is bound to fail because it misrepresents (...)
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  • The Self Shows Up in Experience.Matt Duncan - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (2):299-318.
    I can be aware of myself, and thereby come to know things about myself, in a variety of different ways. But is there some special way in which I—and only I—can learn about myself? Can I become aware of myself by introspecting? Do I somehow show up in my own conscious experiences? David Hume and most contemporary philosophers say no. They deny that the self shows up in experience. However, in this paper I appeal to research on schizophrenia—on thought insertion, (...)
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  • Developing the Sense of Agency Rating Scale (SOARS): An Empirical Measure of Agency Disruption in Hypnosis.Vince Polito, Amanda J. Barnier & Erik Z. Woody - 2013 - Consciousness and Cognition 22 (3):684-696.
    Two experiments report on the construction of the Sense of Agency Rating Scale (SOARS), a new measure for quantifying alterations to agency. In Experiment 1, 370 participants completed a preliminary version of the scale following hypnosis. Factor analysis revealed two underlying factors: Involuntariness and Effortlessness. In Experiment 2, this two factor structure was confirmed in a sample of 113 low, medium and high hypnotisable participants. The two factors, Involuntariness and Effortlessness, correlated significantly with hypnotisability and pass rates for ideomotor, challenge (...)
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  • Philosophical Questions About the Nature of Willpower.Chandra Sekhar Sripada - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (9):793–805.
    In this article, I survey four key questions about willpower: How is willpower possible? Why does willpower fail? How does willpower relate to other self-regulatory processes? and What are the connections between willpower and weakness of will? Empirical research into willpower is growing rapidly and yielding some fascinating new findings. This survey emphasizes areas in which empirical progress in understanding willpower helps to advance traditional philosophical debates.
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  • Why People Believe in Indeterminist Free Will.Oisín Deery - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (8):2033-2054.
    Recent empirical evidence indicates that people tend to believe that they possess indeterminist free will, and people’s experience of choosing and deciding is that they possess such freedom. Some also maintain that people’s belief in indeterminist free will has its source in their experience of choosing and deciding. Yet there seem to be good reasons to resist endorsing. Despite this, I maintain that belief in indeterminist free will really does have its source in experience. I explain how this is so (...)
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  • Consciousness and No Self?Sebastian Watzl - 2018 - Ratio 31 (4):363-375.
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  • Bodily Ownership and Self-Location: Components of Bodily Self-Consciousness.Andrea Serino, Adrian Alsmith, Marcello Costantini, Alisa Mandrigin, Ana Tajadura-Jimenez & Christophe Lopez - 2013 - Consciousness and Cognition 22 (4):1239-1252.
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  • Self-Consciousness.Joel Smith - 2017 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    -/- Human beings are conscious not only of the world around them but also of themselves: their activities, their bodies, and their mental lives. They are, that is, self-conscious (or, equivalently, self-aware). Self-consciousness can be understood as an awareness of oneself. But a self-conscious subject is not just aware of something that merely happens to be themselves, as one is if one sees an old photograph without realising that it is of oneself. Rather a self-conscious subject is aware of themselves (...)
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  • A Cognitive Account of Agentive Awareness.Myrto Mylopoulos - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (5):545-563.
    Agentive awareness is one's awareness of oneself as presently acting. Dominant accounts in cognitive science consider agentive awareness to be grounded in the states and processes underlying sensorimotor control. In this paper, I raise concerns for this approach and develop an alternative. Broadly, in the approach I defend, one is agentively aware in the virtue of intending to act. I further argue that agentive awareness is not constituted by intentions themselves but rather first-personal thoughts that are formed on the basis (...)
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  • Delusions Redux.Jennifer Radden - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (1):125-139.
    My response to the preceding essays begins with some preliminaries about my terminology, approach, and conception of rationality as a regulative ideal. I then comment on the Murphy's discussion about normal religious belief and religious delusions, and on causal assumptions challenged by Langdon's folies à deux. Responding to Gerrans's imagination-based account of delusion and Hohwy's discussion of illusions, I next try to envision what both doxastic and imagination-based approaches might have overlooked by asking whether there can be delusional feelings. Final (...)
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