Reply to Jean Decety: Perceiving actions and understanding agency

In Jerome Dokic & Joelle Proust (eds.), Simulation and Knowledge of Action. John Benjamins. pp. 45--73 (2002)
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Decety presents evidence for the claim that neural mechanisms involved in the generation of actions are also recruited in the observation and mental simulation of actions. This paper explores the relationship between such neuropsychological findings and our common-sense understanding of what it is for a person to imitate or imagine performing an action they have observed. A central question is whether imitation and imagination necessarily involve the ability to distinguish between one's own actions and those of others. It is argued that certain imitative and imaginative capacities can be present, and play a key role in the acquisition of knowledge, even in the absence of an ability to distinguish between self and other in this way.
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