Mapping the Dimensions of Agency: The Narrative as Unifying Mechanism

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 12 (2-3):191-193 (2021)
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Schönau et al. (2021) identified four dimensions of agency (authenticity, privacy, self–trust, and responsibility) that may be influenced by the use of neurotechnologies, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) or brain–computer–interfaces (BCI). The Agency Map they proposed depicts the role of each dimension, and indicates how they may interact. The authors emphasize that a strength of their approach is that it allows to capture the agency dimensions that were previously seen as disconnected and independent as intricately interwoven parts of the person’s experience. This intended unification may help to understand personal agency more fully in various contexts important in neuroethical considerations. However, what is missing in Schönau et al.’s analysis is the mechanism—the very link— by which these various dimensions can come together. As Zawadzki (2020) points out discussing his account of the self (PTS–moral aspects)—which also includes the agency dimensions indicated by Schönau et al. (both authenticity, and responsibility, but also autonomy)—what is crucial in order to unify these various dimensions is narrative.

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Przemysław Zawadzki
Jagiellonian University