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Summary Some philosophers see agent's awareness or the sense of intentional agency at the root of self-awareness and self-knowledge. At the same time, there is debate as to whether or not self-consciousness play a role in the causation of action. Further, there is currently much debate with respect to the empirical foundations of the sense of agency and the ways in which the sense of agency can be disturbed.
Key works Recently, O'Brien 2007 has proposed an account of self-consciousness in terms of agent's awareness. Rödl 2007 has also proposed such an account, which is inspired by Kant. Roessler & Eilan 2003 is a collection of recent essays on various topics related to agency and self-consciousness at the intersection of philosophy and psychology.
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  1. Stephen Asma, Jaak Panksepp, Rami Gabriel & Glennon Curran (2012). Philosophical Implications of Affective Neuroscience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (3-4):6-48.
    These papers are based on a Symposium at the COGSCI Conference in 2010. 1. Naturalizing the Mammalian Mind (Jaak Panksepp) 2. Modularity in Cognitive Psychology and Affective Neuroscience (Rami Gabriel) 3. Affective Neuroscience and the Philosophy of Self (Stephen Asma and Tom Greif) 4. Affective Neuroscience and Law (Glennon Curran and Rami Gabriel).
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  2. Yochai Ataria (2013). Sense of Ownership and Sense of Agency During Trauma. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-14.
    This paper seeks to describe and analyze the traumatic experience through an examination of the sense of agency—the sense of controlling one’s body, and sense of ownership—the sense that it is my body that undergoes experiences. It appears that there exist (at least) two levels of traumatic experience: on the first level one loses the sense of agency but retains the sense of ownership, whilst on the second one loses both of these, with symptoms becoming progressively more severe. A comparison (...)
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  3. Lynne Rudder Baker (1981). Why Computers Can't Act. American Philosophical Quarterly 18 (April):157-163.
    To be an agent, one must be able to formulate intentions. To be able to formulate intentions, one must have a first-person perspective. Computers lack a first-person perspective. So, computers are not agents.
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  4. Tim Bayne & Elisabeth Pacherie (2007). Narrators and Comparators: The Architecture of Agentive Self-Awareness. [REVIEW] 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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  5. James Bell (2007). Absolve You to Yourself: Emerson's Conception of Rational Agency. Inquiry 50 (3):234 – 252.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson famously warned his readers against the dangers of conformity and consistency. In this paper, I argue that this warning informs his engagement with and opposition to a Kantian view of rational agency. The interpretation I provide of some of Emerson's central essays outlines a unique conception of agency, a conception which gives substance to Emerson's exhortations of self-trust. While Kantian in spirit, Emerson's view challenges the requirement that autonomy requires acting from a conception of the law. The (...)
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  6. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore & Chris Frith (2003). Self-Awareness and Action. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. Special Issue 13 (2):219-224.
  7. Bill Brewer (1992). Self-Location and Agency. Mind 101 (401):17-34.
    We perceive things in the external world as spatially located both with respect to each other and to ourselves, such that they are in principle accessible from where we seem to be. I hear the door bang behind me; I feel the pen on the desk over to my right; and I see you walking beneath the line of pictures, from left to right in front of me. By displaying these spatial relations between its objects and us, the perceivers, perception (...)
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  8. Ingar Brinck & G. (1999). Representation and Self-Awareness in Intentional Agents. Synthese 118 (1):89-104.
    Several conditions for being an intrinsically intentional agent are put forward. On a first level of intentionality the agent has representations. Two kinds are described: cued and detached. An agent with both kinds is able to represent both what is prompted by the context and what is absent from it. An intermediate level of intentionality is achieved by having an inner world, that is, a coherent system of detached representations that model the world. The inner world is used, e.g., for (...)
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  9. Andrei A. Buckareff (2012). Mental Action. Edited by Lucy O'Brien and Matthew Soteriou. (Oxford UP, 2009. Pp. X + 286. Price £50.00). Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):401-403.
  10. Glenn Carruthers (2012). The Case for the Comparator Model as an Explanation of the Sense of Agency and its Breakdowns. Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):30-45.
    I compare Frith and colleagues’ influential comparator account of how the sense of agency is elicited to the multifactorial weighting model advocated by Synofzik and colleagues. I defend the comparator model from the common objection that the actual sensory consequences of action are not needed to elicit the sense of agency. I examine the comparator model’s ability to explain the performance of healthy subjects and those suffering from delusions of alien control on various self-attribution tasks. It transpires that the comparator (...)
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  11. Glenn Carruthers (2010). A Problem for Wegner and Colleagues' Model of the Sense of Agency. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (3):341-357.
    The sense of agency, that is the sense that one is the agent of one’s bodily actions, is one component of our self-consciousness. Recently, Wegner and colleagues have developed a model of the causal history of this sense. Their model takes it that the sense of agency is elicited for an action when one infers that one or other of one’s mental states caused that action. In their terms, the sense of agency is elicited by the inference to apparent mental (...)
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  12. Glenn Carruthers (2009). Commentary on Synofzik, Vosgerau and Newen. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2):515 - 520.
    Synofzik, Vosgerau, and Newen (2008) offer a powerful explanation of the sense of agency. To argue for their model they attempt to show that one of the standard models (the comparator model) fails to explain the sense of agency and that their model offers a more general account than is aimed at by the standard model. Here I offer comment on both parts of this argument. I offer an alternative reading of some of the data they use to argue against (...)
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  13. Kalina Christoff, Diego Cosmelli, Dorothée Legrand & Evan Thompson (2011). Specifying the Self for Cognitive Neuroscience. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15 (3):104-112.
  14. Katja Crone, Kristina Musholt & Anna Strasser (2012). Facets of Self-Consciousness-Special Issued Edited by Katja Crone, Kristine Musholt and Anna Strasser. Grazer Philosophische Studien 84.
  15. T. D., G. Knoblich, M. Erb & J. T. (2003). Observing One's Hand Become Anarchic: An fMRI Study of Action Identification. Consciousness and Cognition 12 (4):597-608.
    The self seems to be a unitary entity remaining stable across time. Nevertheless, current theorizing conceptualizes the self as a number of interacting sub-systems involving perception, intention and action (self-model). One important function of such a self-model is to distinguish between events occurring as a result of one's own actions and events occurring as the result of somebody else's actions. We conducted an fMRI experiment that compared brain activation after an abrupt mismatch between one's own movement and its visual consequences (...)
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  16. E. Daprati, N. Franck, N. Georgieff, J. Proust, E. Pacherie, J. Dalery & M. Jeannerod (1997). Looking for the Agent: An Investigation Into Self-Consciousness and Consciousness of the Action in Patients with Schizophrenia. Cognition 65:71-86.
  17. E. Daprati, N. Franck, N. Georgieff, Joëlle Proust, Elisabeth Pacherie, J. Dalery & Marc Jeannerod (1997). Looking for the Agent: An Investigation Into Consciousness of Action and Self-Consciousness in Schizophrenic Patients. Cognition 65 (1):71-86.
    The abilities to attribute an action to its proper agent and to understand its meaning when it is produced by someone else are basic aspects of human social communication. Several psychiatric syndromes, such as schizophrenia, seem to lead to a dysfunction of the awareness of one’s own action as well as of recognition of actions performed by other. Such syndromes offer a framework for studying the determinants of agency, the ability to correctly attribute actions to their veridical source. Thirty normal (...)
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  18. Nicole David (2012). New Frontiers in the Neuroscience of the Sense of Agency. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 6.
    The sense that I am the author of my own actions, including the ability to distinguish my own from other people’s actions, is a fundamental building block of our sense of self, on the one hand, and successful social interactions, on the other. Using cognitive neuroscience techniques, researchers have attempted to elucidate the functional basis of this intriguing phenomenon, also trying to explain pathological abnormalities of action awareness in certain psychiatric and neurological disturbances. Recent conceptual, technological and methodological advances suggest (...)
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  19. Nicole David, Anna Stenzel, Till Schneider & Andreas Engel (2011). The Feeling of Agency: Empirical Indicators for a Pre-Reflective Level of Action Awareness. Frontiers in Psychology 2.
    The sense of agency has been defined as the sense that I am the author of my own actions. This sense, however, is usually not reflected upon but instead pre-reflectively experienced. Experimental approaches usually measure the sense of agency by judgments or verbal reports, despite evidence that the sense of agency is not sufficiently assessed on such a reflective level. Here we sought to identify non-verbal measures of the sense of agency, particularly testing the relevance of physiological activity such as (...)
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  20. Sanneke de Haan & Leon de Bruin (2010). Reconstructing the Minimal Self, or How to Make Sense of Agency and Ownership. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (3):373-396.
    We challenge Gallagher’s distinction between the sense of ownership (SO) and the sense of agency (SA) as two separable modalities of experience of the minimal self and argue that a careful investigation of the examples provided to promote this distinction in fact reveals that SO and SA are intimately related and modulate each other. We propose a way to differentiate between the various notions of SO and SA that are currently used interchangeably in the debate, and suggest a more gradual (...)
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  21. D. Debus (2010). Self-Consciousness, by Sebastian Rodl. Mind 118 (472):1174-1180.
    (No abstract is available for this citation).
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  22. J. Dokic (2003). The Sense of Ownership: An Analogy Between Sensation and Action. In Johannes Roessler (ed.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 321–344.
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  23. Naomi M. Eilan & Johannes Roessler (2003). Agency and Self-Awareness: Mechanisms and Epistemology. In Johannes Roessler (ed.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  24. Anika Fiebich & Shaun Gallagher (2012). Joint Attention in Joint Action. Philosophical Psychology 26 (4):571-87.
    In this paper, we investigate the role of intention and joint attention in joint actions. Depending on the shared intentions the agents have, we distinguish between joint path-goal actions and joint final-goal actions. We propose an instrumental account of basic joint action analogous to a concept of basic action and argue that intentional joint attention is a basic joint action. Furthermore, we discuss the functional role of intentional joint attention for successful cooperation in complex joint actions. Anika Fiebich is PhD (...)
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  25. Ellen Fridland (2011). The Case for Proprioception. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 10 (4):521-540.
    In formulating a theory of perception that does justice to the embodied and enactive nature of perceptual experience, proprioception can play a valuable role. Since proprioception is necessarily embodied, and since proprioceptive experience is particularly integrated with one’s bodily actions, it seems clear that proprioception, in addition to, e.g., vision or audition, can provide us with valuable insights into the role of an agent’s corporal skills and capacities in constituting or structuring perceptual experience. However, if we are going to have (...)
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  26. Shaun Gallagher (2010). Multiple Aspects of Agency. New Ideas in Psychology.
    Recent significant research in a number of disciplines centers around the concept of the sense of agency. Because many of these studies cut across disciplinary lines there is good reason to seek a clear consensus on what ‘sense of agency’ means. In this paper I indicate some complexities that this consensus might have to deal with. I also highlight an important phenomenological distinction that needs to be considered in any discussion of the sense of agency, regardless of how it gets (...)
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  27. Shaun Gallagher & Anthony J. Marcel (2002). The Self in Contextualized Action. In Jonathan Shear & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Models of the Self. Thorverton Uk: Imprint Academic. 273.
    This paper suggests that certain traditional ways of analysing the self start off in situations that are abstract or detached from normal experience, and that the conclusions reached in such approaches are, as a result, inexact or mistaken. The paper raises the question of whether there are more contextualized forms of self- consciousness than those usually appealed to in philosophical or psychological analyses, and whether they can be the basis for a more adequate theoretical approach to the self. First, we (...)
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  28. Vittorio Gallese & Corrado Sinigaglia (2010). The Bodily Self as Power for Action. Neuropsychologia.
    The aim of our paper is to show that there is a sense of body that is enactive in nature and that enables to capture the most primitive sense of self. We will argue that the body is primarily given to us as source or power for action, i.e., as the variety of motor potentialities that define the horizon of the world in which we live, by populating it with things at hand to which we can be directed and with (...)
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  29. N. Georgieff & Marc Jeannerod (1998). Beyond Consciousness of External Reality: A ''Who'' System for Consciousness of Action and Self-Consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 7 (3):465-477.
    This paper offers a framework for consciousness of internal reality. Recent PET experiments are reviewed, showing partial overlap of cortical activation during self-produced actions and actions observed from other people. This overlap suggests that representations for actions may be shared by several individuals, a situation which creates a potential problem for correctly attributing an action to its agent. The neural conditions for correct agency judgments are thus assigned a key role in self/other distinction and self-consciousness. A series of behavioral experiments (...)
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  30. Nicolas Georgieff & Yves Rossetti (1999). How Does Implicit and Explicit Knowledge Fit in the Consciousness of Action? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):765-766.
    Dienes & Perner's (D&P's) target articles proposes an analysis of explicit knowledge based on a progressive transformation of implicit into explicit products, applying this gradient to different aspects of knowledge that can be represented. The goal is to integrate a philosophical concept of knowledge with relevant psychophysical and neuropsychological data. D&P seem to fill an impressive portion of the gap between these two areas. We focus on two examples where a full synthesis of theoretical and empirical data seems difficult to (...)
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  31. Paul J. Gibbs (2000). Thought Insertion and the Inseparability Thesis. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 7 (3):195-202.
    The essay examines the impact of thought insertion on typical conceptions of self-consciousness. Stephens and Graham have recently argued that thought insertion is compatible with the inseparability thesis, which maintains that with regard to self-consciousness subjectivity is a proper part of introspection--introspection and subjectivity are inseparable. They argue that thought insertion is an error of agency and not an error of subjectivity. The essay contends that even if they are correct in their interpretation that thought insertion is an error of (...)
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  32. Pim Haselager (2013). Did I Do That? Brain–Computer Interfacing and the Sense of Agency. Minds and Machines 23 (3):405-418.
    Brain–computer interfacing (BCI) aims at directly capturing brain activity in order to enable a user to drive an application such as a wheelchair without using peripheral neural or motor systems. Low signal to noise ratio’s, low processing speed, and huge intra- and inter-subject variability currently call for the addition of intelligence to the applications, in order to compensate for errors in the production and/or the decoding of brain signals. However, the combination of minds and machines through BCI’s and intelligent devices (...)
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  33. David Hunter (2008). Self-Consciousness - by Sebastian Rödl. Philosophical Books 49 (3):272-274.
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  34. Susan L. Hurley (1998). Self-Consciousness, Spontaneity, and the Myth of the Giving. In Consciousness in Action. Cambridge.
    From my Consciousness in Action, ch. 2; see Consciousness in Action for bibligraphy. This chapter revises material from "Kant on Spontaneity and the Myth of the Giving", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1993-94, pp. 137-164, and "Myth Upon Myth", Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1996, vol. 96, pp. 253-260.
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  35. Susan L. Hurley (1998). Nonconceptual Self-Consciousness and Agency: Perspective and Access. Communication and Cognition 30 (3-4):207-247.
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  36. Marc Jeannerod (2006). Motor Cognition: What Actions Tell the Self. OUP Oxford.
    Our ability to acknowledge and recognise our own identity - our 'self' - is a characteristic doubtless unique to humans. Where does this feeling come from? How does the combination of neurophysiological processes coupled with our interaction with the outside world construct this coherent identity? We know that our social interactions contribute via the eyes, ears etc. However, our self is not only influenced by our senses. It is also influenced by the actions we perform and those we see others (...)
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  37. Marc Jeannerod (2003). Consciousness of Action and Self-Consciousness: A Cognitive Neuroscience Approach. In Johannes Roessler & Naomi Eilan (eds.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  38. Marc Jeannerod & Elisabeth Pacherie (2004). Agency, Simulation and Self-Identification. Mind and Language 19 (2):113-146.
    This paper is concerned with the problem of selfidentification in the domain of action. We claim that this problem can arise not just for the self as object, but also for the self as subject in the ascription of agency. We discuss and evaluate some proposals concerning the mechanisms involved in selfidentification and in agencyascription, and their possible impairments in pathological cases. We argue in favor of a simulation hypothesis that claims that actions, whether overt or covert, are centrally simulated (...)
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  39. Tomis Kapitan, Self-Consciousness and Freedom.
    As practical beings, we act with a sense of freedom, or, to use Kant’s memorable phrase, “unter der Idee der Freiheit.” This attitude is present whenever we are deciding what to do, and it is most clearly revealed when we reflect on what we take for granted while deliberating. Consider a young man, Imad, who lives under an oppressive military occupation and deliberates about whether to join the resistance, leave the country, or continue quietly in his studies hoping that the (...)
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  40. Tomis Kapitan (2007). The Phenomenology of Freedom. Journal of Mind and Behavior 28 (3/4):189.
    John Searle describes our sense of freedom as an experience of a “gap” between an intentional action and its psychological antecedents, specifically, our reasons.. Since the gap is itself understood as a lack of causation, then no agent can accept the antecedent determination of voluntary action except at the price of “practical inconsistency.” I argue that despite Searle’s insightful discussion, the sense of freedom is not an experience of a gap as he describes it but, instead, is a higher-order attitude (...)
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  41. T. T. J. Kircher & D. Leube (2003). Self-Consciousness, Self-Agency, and Schizophrenia. Consciousness and Cognition 12 (4):656-669.
    Empirical approaches on topics such as consciousness, self-awareness, or introspective perspective, need a conceptual framework so that the emerging, still unconnected findings can be integrated and put into perspective. We introduce a model of self-consciousness derived from phenomenology, philosophy, the cognitive, and neurosciences. We will then give an overview of research data on one particular aspect of our model, self-agency, trying to link findings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Finally, we will expand on pathological aspects of self-agency, and in particular (...)
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  42. G. Knoblich & R. Flach (2003). Action Identity: Evidence From Self-Recognition, Prediction, and Coordination. Consciousness and Cognition 12 (4):620-632.
    Prior research suggests that the action system is responsible for creating an immediate sense of self by determining whether certain sensations and perceptions are the result of one's own actions. In addition, it is assumed that declarative, episodic, or autobiographical memories create a temporally extended sense of self or some form of identity. In the present article, we review recent evidence suggesting that action (procedural) knowledge also forms part of a person's identity, an action identity, so to speak. Experiments that (...)
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  43. Devpriya Kumar & Narayanan Srinivasan (2012). Hierarchical Event-Control and Subjective Experience of Agency. Frontiers in Psychology 3.
    Hierarchical Event-Control and Subjective Experience of Agency.
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  44. Dorothée Legrand (2007). Naturalizing the Acting Self: Subjective Vs. Anonymous Agency. Philosophical Psychology 20 (4):457 – 478.
    This paper considers critically the enterprise of naturalizing the subjective experience of acting intentionally. I specifically expose the limits of the model that conceives of agency as composed of two stages. The first stage consists in experiencing an anonymous intention without being conscious of it as anybody's in particular. The second stage disambiguates this anonymous experience thanks to a mechanism of identification and attribution answering the question: "who is intending to act?" On the basis of phenomenological, clinical, methodological and empirical (...)
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  45. D. T. Leube, G. Knoblich, M. Erb & T. T. J. Kircher (2003). Observing One's Hand Become Anarchic: An fMRI Study of Action Identification. Consciousness and Cognition 12 (4):597-608.
    The self seems to be a unitary entity remaining stable across time. Nevertheless, current theorizing conceptualizes the self as a number of interacting sub-systems involving perception, intention and action (self-model). One important function of such a self-model is to distinguish between events occurring as a result of one's own actions and events occurring as the result of somebody else's actions. We conducted an fMRI experiment that compared brain activation after an abrupt mismatch between one's own movement and its visual consequences (...)
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  46. Anthony J. Marcel (2003). The Sense of Agency: Awareness and Ownership of Action. In Johannes Roessler & Naomi Eilan (eds.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 48–93.
  47. Jacqueline Mariña (2008). Transformation of the Self in the Thought of Schleiermacher. OUP Oxford.
    Often referred to as the father of modern theology, F.D.E. Schleiermacher occasioned a revolution in theology having a decisive impact on all subsequent theology. In this original study, Jacqueline Mariña argues that Schleiermachers philosophical ethics constitutes a completely original project, and is arguably his most important achievement. -/- Mariña examines Schleiermachers claim that the self relates to the whence of all that is through the ground of self-consciousness, and shows how this understanding allowed him to develop a philosophical system integrally (...)
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  48. Jack Martin (2007). Interpreting and Extending G. H. Mead's "Metaphysics" of Selfhood and Agency. Philosophical Psychology 20 (4):441 – 456.
    G. H. Mead developed an alternative "metaphysics" of selfhood and agency that underlies, but is seldom made explicit in discussions of, his social developmental psychology. This is an alternative metaphysics that rejects any pregiven, fixed foundations for being and knowing. It assumes the emergence of social psychological phenomena such as mind, self, and deliberative agency through the activity of human actors and interactors within their biophysical and sociocultural world. Of central importance to the emergence of self-consciousness and deliberative forms of (...)
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  49. Wayne Martin, Conscience and Confession in Rousseau's Naturalistic Moral Psychology.
    IN PLACE OF AN ABSTRACT: I here report on my work-in-progress addressing Rousseau’s naturalistic account of human agency. In the first half of these notes I attempt to throw light on the distinctive character of Rousseau’s philosophical naturalism. I compare Rousseau’s naturalism both to that of his own contemporaries and to some of our own (§1), but argue that Rousseauian naturalism is better understood as a development of ancient forms of ethical naturalism, particularly as mediated by Seneca (§2). I then (...)
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  50. Olivier Massin (2010). L'objectivité du toucher [The Objectivity of the Sense of Touch]. Dissertation, Aix-Marseille
    This thesis vindicates the common-sense intuition that touch is more objective than the other senses. The reason why it is so, it is argued, is that touch is the only sense essential of the experience of physical effort, and that this experience constitutes our only acquaintance with the mind-independence of the physical world. The thesis is divided in tree parts. Part I argues that sensory modalities are individuated by they proper objects, realistically construed. Part II argues that the proper objects (...)
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