Agency

Edited by Michael Brent (University of Denver)
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  1. Games and The Fluidity of Layered Agency.Luca Ferrero - forthcoming - Journal of the Philosophy of Sport.
    In this paper, I use Thi Nguyen's analysis of striving games to sketch an outline of the structure of our agency at large. Following Nguyen, I argue that our agency is layered and fluid. Scarcity of deliberative resources and the need to coordinate multiple ends require us to introduce intermediate ends that are held temporarily fixed in guiding our conduct. This fixity is made possible by our ability to be absorbed in the pursuit of those intermediate ends as if they (...)
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  2. Agency and Varieties of Felt Necessity.Monique Wonderly - forthcoming - Ethics.
    Felt necessity, or the phenomenon of experiencing some person or object as a felt need, plays important roles in structuring human agency. Philosophical treatments of the relationship between agency and felt necessity have tended to focus on appetitive needs and necessities arising from a particular type of care. I argue that we have much to gain by considering a third underexplored variety of felt necessity that I call “attachment necessity.” Attachment necessity has its own distinct parts to play in structuring (...)
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  3. A Regulative Theory of Basic Intentional Omissions.Philippe A. Lusson - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    The folk picture of agency suggests that human beings have basic agency over some of their omissions. For example, someone may follow through on a decision never to support a political party without doing anything in order to make themselves omit. A number of features appear to signal their agency: the omission is not just called intentional, it is also seen as an achievement and explained in terms of the reasons for the decision. Some philosophers have tried to debunk the (...)
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  4. Quasi-Psychologism About Collective Intention.Matthew Rachar - forthcoming - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice:1-14.
    This paper argues that a class of popular views of collective intention, which I call “quasi-psychologism”, faces a problem explaining common intuitions about collective action. Views in this class hold that collective intentions are realized in or constituted by individual, mental, participatory intentions. I argue that this metaphysical commitment entails persistence conditions that are in tension with a purported obligation to notify co-actors before leaving a collective action attested to by participants in experimental research about the interpersonal normativity of collective (...)
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  5. Are Basic Actors Brainbound Agents? Narrowing Down Solutions to the Problem of Probabilistic Content for Predictive Perceivers.George Britten-Neish - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-25.
    Clark (2018) worries that predictive processing accounts of perception introduce a puzzling disconnect between the content of personal-level perceptual states and their underlying subpersonal representations. According to PP, in perception, the brain encodes information about the environment in conditional probability density distributions over causes of sensory input. But it seems perceptual experience only presents us with one way the world is at a time. If perception is at bottom probabilistic, shouldn’t this aspect of subpersonally represented content show up in consciousness? (...)
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  6. Non-Symmetric Awe: Why it Matters Even if We Don’t.Daniel Coren - 2021 - Philosophia 49 (1):217-233.
    The universe is enormous, perhaps unimaginably so. In comparison, we are very small. Does this suggest that humanity has little if any cosmic significance? And if we don’t matter, should that matter to us? Blaise Pascal, Frank Ramsey, Bertrand Russell, Susan Wolf, Harry Frankfurt, Stephen Hawking, and others have offered insightful answers to those questions. For example, Pascal and Ramsey emphasize that whereas the stars cannot think, human beings can. Through an exploration of some features of awe and its positive (...)
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  7. Review of Agnes Callard, Aspiration. [REVIEW]Paul Katsafanas - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2):464-469.
    Review of Agnes Callard's Aspiration. Forthcoming in a symposium on the book in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
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  8. "Hubert Dreyfus: Skillful Coping and the Nature of Everyday Expertise".Justin F. White - 2020 - In Christopher Erhard & Tobias Keiling (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency. Routledge. pp. 219–234.
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  9. The Senses of Touch and Movement and the Argument for Active Powers.Roger Smith - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  10. Unconscious Perception and Central Coordinating Agency.Joshua Shepherd & Myrto Mylopoulos - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-25.
    One necessary condition on any adequate account of perception is clarity regarding whether unconscious perception exists. The issue is complicated, and the debate is growing in both philosophy and science. In this paper we consider the case for unconscious perception, offering three primary achievements. First, we offer a discussion of the underspecified notion of central coordinating agency, a notion that is critical for arguments that purportedly perceptual states are not attributable to the individual, and thus not genuinely perceptual. We develop (...)
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  11. Embodied Intelligence and Self-Regulation in Skilled Performance: Or, Two Anxious Moments on the Static Trapeze.Kath Bicknell - forthcoming - Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-20.
    In emphasising improvement, smooth coping and success over variability and regression, skill theory has overlooked the processes performers at all levels develop and rely on for managing bodily and affective fluctuations, and their impact on skilled performance. I argue that responding to the instability and variability of unique bodily capacities is a vital feature of skilled action processes. I suggest that embodied intelligence – a term I use to describe a set of abilities to perceptively interpret and make use of (...)
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  12. Book Review of Means, Ends, and Persons: The Meaning & Psychological Dimensions of Kant's Humanity Formula by Robert Audi. [REVIEW]Susan V. H. Castro - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (4):491–494.
    Audi's aim in Means, Ends, and Persons is to introduce an ethics of conduct in which treatment of persons features as a central case. The approach to conduct is inspired by Kant, and there are moments of explicit contact, but this book is not meant to be a work of Kant scholarship. The method of argument consists largely in laying out a system of distinctions that are illustrated and defended by simple, familiar examples. Audi's approach here is a continuation of (...)
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  13. The Skill of Self-Control.Juan Pablo Bermúdez - forthcoming - Synthese:1-23.
    Researchers often claim that self-control is a skill. It is also often stated that self-control exertions are intentional actions. However, no account has yet been proposed of the skillful agency that makes self-control exertion possible, so our understanding of self-control remains incomplete. Here I propose the skill model of self-control, which accounts for skillful agency by tackling the guidance problem: how can agents transform their abstract and coarse-grained intentions into the highly context-sensitive, fine-grained control processes required to select, revise and (...)
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  14. The Effect of Uncertainty on Prediction Error in the Action Perception Loop.Kelsey Perrykkad, Rebecca P. Lawson, Sharna Jamadar & Jakob Hohwy - 2021 - Cognition 210:104598.
    Among all their sensations, agents need to distinguish between those caused by themselves and those caused by external causes. The ability to infer agency is particularly challenging under conditions of uncertainty. Within the predictive processing framework, this should happen through active control of prediction error that closes the action-perception loop. Here we use a novel, temporally-sensitive, behavioural proxy for prediction error to show that it is minimised most quickly when volatility is high and when participants report agency, regardless of the (...)
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  15. Pathologies of Agency.Lubomira V. Radoilska - forthcoming - In The Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Agency.
    This chapter aims to distinguish between pathologies of agency in the strict sense and mere sources of impediments or distortion. Expanding on a recent notion of necessarily less-than-successful agency, it complements a mainstream approach to mental disorders and anomalous psychological conditions in the philosophy of mind and action. According this approach, the interest of such clinical case studies is heuristic, to differentiate between facets of agency that are functionally and conceptually separate even though they typically come together. Yet, in the (...)
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  16. Social Agency as a Continuum.Crystal Silver, Benjamin Tatler, Ramakrishna Chakravarthi & Bert Timmermans - forthcoming - Psychonomic Bulletin and Review:1-20.
    Sense of Agency, the phenomenology associated with causing one's own actions and corresponding effects, is a cornerstone of human experience. Social Agency can be defined as the Sense of Agency experienced in any situation in which the effects of our actions are related to a conspecific. This can be implemented as the other's reactions being caused by our action, joint action modulating our Sense of Agency, or the other's mere social presence influencing our Sense of Agency. It is currently an (...)
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  17. Behaving, Mattering, and Habits Called Aesthetics.Adrian Mróz - 2020 - Polish Journal of Aesthetics 57 (2):57-102.
    In this two-part article, I propose a new materialist understanding of behavior. The term “mattering” in the title refers to sense-making behavior that matters, that is, to significant habits and materialized behaviors. By significant habits I mean protocols, practices and routines that generate ways of reading material signs and fixed accounts of movement. I advance a notion of behaving that stresses its materiality and sensory shaping, and I provide select examples from music. I note that current definitions of behavior do (...)
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  18. Willpower Needs Tactical Skill.Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2021 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44 (e32):17–18.
    In “Willpower with and without effort”, G. Ainslie advances our understanding of selfcontrol by theoretically unifying multiple forms of willpower. But one crucial question remains unanswered: How do agents pick the right forms of willpower in each situation? I argue that willpower requires tactical skill, which detects willpower-demanding contexts, selects context-appropriate tactics, and monitors their implementation. Research on tactical skill will significantly advance our understanding of willpower.
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  19. Keeping It Simple: Rethinking Abilities and Moral Responsibility.Joseph Metz - 2020 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 101 (4):651-668.
    Moral responsibility requires that we are in control of what we do. Many contemporary accounts of responsibility cash out this control in terms of abilities and hold that the relevant abilities are strong abilities, like general abilities. This paper raises a problem for strong abilities views: an agent can plausibly be morally responsible for an action or omission, despite lacking any strong abilities to do the relevant thing. It then offers a way forward for ability‐based views, arguing that very weak (...)
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  20. Conversion Disorder and/or Functional Neurological Disorder: How Neurological Explanations Affect Ideas of Self, Agency, and Accountability.Jonna Brenninkmeijer - 2020 - History of the Human Sciences 33 (5):64-84.
    An estimated 15% of patients seen by neurologists have neurological symptoms, such as paralysis, tremors, dystonia, or seizures, that cannot be medically explained. For a long time, such patients were diagnosed as having conversion disorder and referred to psychiatrists, but for the last two decades or so, neurologists have started to pay more serious attention to this patient group. Instead of maintaining the commonly used label of conversion disorder – which refers to Freud’s idea that traumatic events can be converted (...)
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  21. Effort, Uncertainty, and the Sense of Agency.Oliver Lukitsch - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 11 (4):955-975.
    Orthodox neurocognitive accounts of the bodily sense of agency suggest that the experience of agency arises when action-effects are anticipated accurately. In this paper, I argue that while successful anticipation is crucial for the sense of agency, the role of unsuccessful prediction has been neglected, and that inefficacy and uncertainty are no less central to the sense of agency. I will argue that this is reflected in the phenomenology of agency, which can be characterized both as the experience of efficacy (...)
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  22. On the Affect of Security.Monique Wonderly - 2019 - Philosophical Topics 47 (2):165-181.
    In the contemporary philosophical literature, the topic of security has been largely neglected, and this is especially true of the affect of security. In what follows, I aim to nudge the affect of security toward the philosophical foreground by offering a basic analysis of this attitude. Specifically, I sketch an account on which the affect of security is helpfully construed as a feeling of confidence in one’s ability to competently and effectively exercise one’s agency. Security, so construed, is an affective (...)
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  23. Reflection on the Reflective Ethics of Charity.Sagy Watemberg Izraeli - 2020 - Approaching Religion 10 (2):187-192.
    This article is a reflection on the NSU Winter Symposium of March 2020, entitled ‘Feminism and Hospitality: Religious and Critical Perspectives in dialogue with a Secular Age’. It contends with moral judgments which regard charity as an act of alienation from the other and as a reiteration of hierarchies of power. Instead of this conceptualisation, I propose an ethics of charity in terms of an ethics of the reflective agency of otherness. This ethics of charity entails acts of aid for (...)
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  24. Resentment, Parenting, and Strawson’s Compatibilism.Daniel Coren - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-23.
    Is moral responsibility compatible with determinism? Peter Strawson’s first answer is: I do not know what the thesis of determinism is. His second answer seems to be: Yes, it is, and we can see this by looking to relevant pockets of our ordinary practices and attitudes, especially our responses (resentment, anger, love, forgiveness) to quality of will. His second answer has shaped subsequent discussions of moral responsibility. But what exactly is Strawson’s compatibilism? And is it a plausible view? By attending (...)
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  25. Review of Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, Volume 6. [REVIEW]Daniel Story - forthcoming - Journal of Moral Philosophy.
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  26. Agencement and Agency: If Gilles and Félix Had Met Stanley.John Daniels - 2020 - Modern Theology 36 (4):778-802.
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  27. Active Powers of the Human Mind.Ruth Boeker - forthcoming - In Scottish Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century, vol. 2. Oxford:
  28. Précis Zu: Agents' Abilities.Romy Jaster - 2020 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 74 (3):443-447.
  29. How Inference Isn’T Blind: Self-Conscious Inference and its Role in Doxastic Agency.David Jenkins - 2019 - Dissertation, King’s College London
    This thesis brings together two concerns. The first is the nature of inference—what it is to infer—where inference is understood as a distinctive kind of conscious and self-conscious occurrence. The second concern is the possibility of doxastic agency. To be capable of doxastic agency is to be such that one is capable of directly exercising agency over one’s beliefs. It is to be capable of exercising agency over one’s beliefs in a way which does not amount to mere self-manipulation. Subjects (...)
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  30. Aristotle on Motion in Incomplete Animals.Daniel Coren - 2020 - Apeiron 53 (3):285-314.
    I explain what Aristotle means when, after puzzling about the matter of motion in incomplete animals, he suggests in De Anima III 11.433b31–434a5 that just as incomplete animals are moved indeterminately, desire and phantasia are present in those animals, but present indeterminately. I argue that self-motion and its directing faculties in incomplete animals differ in degree but not in kind from those of complete animals. I examine how an object of desire differs for an incomplete animal. Using a comparison with (...)
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  31. Volition, Action, and Skill in Indian Buddhist Philosophy.Matthew MacKenzie - forthcoming - In The Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise.
    On initial analysis, Indian Buddhist philosophers seem to have an inconsistent set of commitments with regard to the nature of action. First, they are committed to the reality of karman (Skt: action), which concerns the moral quality of actions and the short- and long-term effects of those actions on the agent. Second, they are committed to an understanding of karma as deeply connected with intention or volition (cetanā). Third, they are committed to the idea that, through Buddhist practice, one may (...)
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  32. Out of Habit.Santiago Amaya - forthcoming - Synthese:1-25.
    This paper argues that habits, just like beliefs, can guide intentional action. To do this, a variety of real-life cases where a person acts habitually but contrary to her beliefs are discussed. The cases serve as dissociations showing that intentional agency is possible without doxastic guidance. The upshot is a model for thinking about the rationality of habitual action and the rationalizing role that habits can play in it. The model highlights the role that our history and institutions play in (...)
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  33. Moral Agents or Mindless Machines? A Critical Appraisal of Agency in Artificial Systems.Fabio Tollon - 2019 - Hungarian Philosophical Review 4 (63):9-23.
    In this paper I provide an exposition and critique of Johnson and Noorman’s (2014) three conceptualizations of the agential roles artificial systems can play. I argue that two of these conceptions are unproblematic: that of causally efficacious agency and “acting for” or surrogate agency. Their third conception, that of “autonomous agency,” however, is one I have reservations about. The authors point out that there are two ways in which the term “autonomy” can be used: there is, firstly, the engineering sense (...)
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  34. Temporal Binding, Causation and Agency: Developing a New Theoretical Framework.Christoph Hoerl, Sara Lorimer, Teresa McCormack, David A. Lagnado, Emma Blakey, Emma C. Tecwyn & Marc J. Buehner - 2020 - Cognitive Science 44 (e12843):1-27.
    In temporal binding, the temporal interval between one event and another, occurring some time later, is subjectively compressed. We discuss two ways in which temporal binding has been conceptualized. In studies showing temporal binding between a voluntary action and its causal consequences, such binding is typically interpreted as providing a measure of an implicit or pre-reflective “sense of agency”. However, temporal binding has also been observed in contexts not involving voluntary action, but only the passive observation of a cause-effect sequence. (...)
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  35. Sanctification as Joint Agency with the Triune God.Gary Osmundsen - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (2):325-354.
    If humans are sanctified by a triune God, part of the success of spiritual formation depends on understanding how one’s agency depends upon the Trinity. Some sanctifying actions require causal notions like “obedience,” “yielding,” “participation,” and “cooperation.” So, how is a Christian going to understand them? The purpose of this paper, then, is twofold: develop a model of agency that provides an adequate account of understanding how one’s agency depends upon the Trinity; and explain how this model can increase the (...)
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  36. Intention and Mental Causation.Rémi Clot-Goudard - forthcoming - Foundations of Science.
    Many philosophers nowadays take for granted a causalist view of action explanation, according to which intentional action is a movement caused by mental antecedents. For them, “the possibility of human agency evidently requires that our mental states – our beliefs, desires, and intentions – have causal effects in the physical world: in voluntary actions our beliefs and desires, or intentions and decisions, must somehow cause our limbs to move in appropriate ways” (Jaegwon Kim, Mind in a Physical World, Cambridge (MA), (...)
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  37. Activity and Passivity in Reflective Agency 1.Paul Katsafanas - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:219.
    Many philosophers maintain that there is a distinction between acts that the agent plays an active role in producing, and acts that issue from the agent in a more passive fashion. According to the standard account, we can make sense of this distinction by maintaining that reflective or deliberative acts are paradigmatic cases of an agent’s playing an active role in the production of action. This chapter argues that this standard account is mistaken. Reflective or deliberative actions will seem to (...)
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  38. Trust as an Unquestioning Attitude.C. Thi Nguyen - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Epistemology.
    Most theories of trust presume that trust is a conscious attitude that can be directed only at other agents. I sketch a different form of trust: the unquestioning attitude. What it is to trust, in this sense, is not simply to rely on something, but to rely on it unquestioningly. It is to rely on a resource while suspending deliberation over its reliability. To trust, then, is to set up open pipelines between yourself and parts of the external world — (...)
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  39. Agency and Virtues.Zahra Khazaei - 2019 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 21 (3):119-140.
    In the philosophy of action, agency manifests the capacity of the agent to act. An agent is one who acts voluntarily, consciously and intentionally. This article studies the relationship between virtues and agency to learn to what extent agency is conceptually and metaphysically dependent on moral or epistemic virtues; whether virtue is a necessary condition for action and agency, besides the belief, desire and intention? Or are virtues necessary merely for the moral or epistemic character of the agent and not (...)
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  40. FOMO and Regret for Non-Doings.Joseph Metz - 2019 - Social Theory and Practice 45 (3):451-470.
    An important but underexplored aspect of our negative agency is that it is fitting to regret only a limited subset of our non-doings even though there are many things that we fail to do. This paper examines why it is ill-fitting to regret certain non-doings, arguing that abilities form the primary constraint on the fittingness of this regret. There are many types of abilities, so a central aim of this paper is to clarify which abilities are relevant to such regret. (...)
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  41. Wholehearted Love: An Augustinian Reconstruction of Frankfurt.Alexander Jech - 2009 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Harry G. Frankfurt’s work on agency and reflexivity represents one of the most important attempts in the current philosophical literature to elaborate the structure of agency. Frankfurt wishes to provide an account of what I call the “deep structures” of agency—those features of agency, such as care and love, in virtue of which the surface features, such as desire, are to be explained and understood. These deep structures are important because of their power to explain unified diachronic patterns in our (...)
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  42. The Sense of Agency in Human-Human Vs Human-Robot Joint Action.Ouriel Grynszpan, Aïsha Sahaï, Nasmeh Hamidi, Elisabeth Pacherie, Bruno Berberian, Lucas Roche & Ludovic Saint-Bauzel - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102820.
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  43. Testing for Intrinsic Value, for Us as We Are.Daniel Coren - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-26.
    Philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Brentano, Moore, and Chisholm suggest marks of intrinsic value. Contemporary philosophers such as Christine Korsgaard have insightful discussions of intrinsic value. But how do we verify that some specific thing really is intrinsically valuable? I propose a natural way to test for intrinsic value: first, strip the candidate bare of all considerations of good consequences; and, second, see if what remains is still a good thing. I argue that we, as ordinary human beings, have (...)
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  44. When Robots Tell You What to Do: Sense of Agency in Human- and Robot-Guided Actions.Zeynep Barlas - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102819.
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  45. Agency and Responsibility.Pamela Hieronymi - forthcoming - In Luca Ferrero (ed.), Routledge Handbook for the Philosophy of Agency. New York, NY, USA:
    I first sketch the different things we might have in mind, when thinking about responsibility. I then relate each of those to possible investigations of human agency. The most interesting such relation, in my opinion, is that between agency and what I call “responsibility as mattering.” I offer some hypotheses about that relation.
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  46. Reasoning First.Pamela Hieronymi - forthcoming - In Ruth Chang & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Practical Reasoning. New York, NY, USA:
    Many think of reasons as facts, propositions, or considerations that stand in some relation (or relations) to attitudes, actions, states of affairs. The relation may be an explanatory one or a “normative” one—though some are uncomfortable with irreducibly “normative” relations. I will suggest that we should, instead, see reasons as items in pieces of reasoning. They relate, in the first instance, not to psychological states or events or states of affairs, but to questions. That relation is neither explanatory nor “normative.” (...)
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  47. Norm-Establishing and Norm-Following in Autonomous Agency.Xabier Barandiaran & Matthew Egbert - 2013 - Artificial Life 91 (2):1-24.
    Living agency is subject to a normative dimension (good-bad, adaptive-maladaptive) that is absent from other types of interaction. We review current and historical attempts to naturalize normativity from an organism-centered perspective, identifying two central problems and their solution: (1) How to define the topology of the viability space so as to include a sense of gradation that permits reversible failure, and (2) how to relate both the processes that establish norms and those that result in norm-following behavior. We present a (...)
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  48. The Effects of Action Choice on Temporal Binding, Agency Ratings, and Their Correlation.K. A. Schwarz, L. Weller, A. L. Klaffehn & R. Pfister - 2019 - Consciousness and Cognition 75:102807.
  49. The Aristotelian Conception of Habit and its Contribution to Human Neuroscience.José Ignacio Murillo & Javier Bernacer - 2014 - Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:1-10.
    The notion of habit used in neuroscience is an inheritance from a particular theoretical origin, whose main source is William James. Thus, habits have been characterized as rigid, automatic, unconscious, and opposed to goal-directed actions. This analysis leaves unexplained several aspects of human behavior and cognition where habits are of great importance. We intend to demonstrate the utility that another philosophical conception of habit, the Aristotelian, may have for neuroscientific research. We first summarize the current notion of habit in neuroscience, (...)
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  50. Emotional Awareness and Responsible Agency.Nathan Stout - 2019 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 10 (2):337-362.
    This paper aims to further examine the relationship between self-awareness and agency by focusing on the role that emotional awareness plays in prominent conceptions of responsibility. One promising way of approaching this task is by focusing on individuals who display impairments in emotional awareness and then examining the effects that these impairments have on their apparent responsibility for the actions that they perform. Individuals with autism spectrum disorder as well as other clinical groups who evince high degrees of the personality (...)
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