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1.6g. Consciousness of Action (Consciousness of Action on PhilPapers)

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Aguilar, Jesús H. & Buckareff, Andrei A. (2009). Agency, consciousness, and executive control. Philosophia 37 (1).   (Google)
Abstract: On the Causal Theory of Action (CTA), internal proper parts of an agent such as desires and intentions are causally responsible for actions. CTA has increasingly come under attack for its alleged failure to account for agency. A recent version of this criticism due to François Schroeter proposes that CTA cannot provide an adequate account of either the executive control or the autonomous control involved in full-fledged agency. Schroeter offers as an alternative a revised understanding of the proper role of consciousness in agency. In this paper we criticize Schroeter’s analysis of the type of consciousness involved in executive control and examine the way in which the conscious self allegedly intervenes in action. We argue that Schroeter’s proposal should not be preferred over recent versions of CTA
Andersen, Holly, Causation and the awareness of agency.   (Google)
Abstract: I criticize the tendency to address the causal role of awareness in agency in terms of the awareness of agency, and argue that this distorts the causal import of experimental results in significant ways. I illustrate, using the work of Shaun Gallagher, how the tendency to focus on the awareness of agency obscures the role of extrospective awareness by considering it only in terms of what it contributes to the awareness of agency. Focus on awareness of agency separates awareness from agency itself, and then turns it inwards to introspect distinct agentive processes. If we then assume that the causal influence of awareness is directed at the same object as awareness itself, then the only avenue for conscious causal involvement in action is to somehow interfere with the separate, even neuronal, processes leading to action. I label this the Micromanagement Model of conscious agency, because it forces awareness to micromanage other, nonconscious, processes in order to be causally efficacious. Implicit adherence to the Micromanagement Model prejudices us towards the mistaken conclusion that awareness has limited to no causal role in action
Andersen, Holly (ms). Two causal mistakes in Wegner's illusion of conscious will.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Daniel Wegner argues that our feelings of conscious will are illusory: these feelings are not causally involved in the production of action, which is rather governed by unconscious neural processes. I argue that Wegner's interpretation of neuroscientific results rests on two fallacious causal assumptions, neither of which are supported by the evidence. Each assumption involves a Cartesian disembodiment of conscious will, and it is this disembodiment that results in the appearance of causal inefficacy, rather than any interesting features of conscious will. Wegner's fallacies illustrate two take-away points to heed if making claims about the causal structure of agency
Annas, Julia (2008). The phenomenology of virtue. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):21-34.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: What is it like to be a good person? I examine and reject suggestions that this will involve having thoughts which have virtue or being a good person as part of their content, as well as suggestions that it might be the presence of feelings distinct from the virtuous person’s thoughts. Is there, then, anything after all to the phenomenology of virtue? I suggest that an answer is to be found in looking to Aristotle’s suggestion that virtuous activity is pleasant to the virtuous person. I try to do this, using the work of the contemporary social psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi and his work on the ‘flow experience’. Crucial here is the point that I consider accounts of virtue which take it to have the structure of a practical expertise or skill. It is when we are most engaged in skilful complex activity that the activity is experienced as ‘unimpeded’, in Aristotle’s terms, or as ‘flow’. This experience does not, as might at first appear, preclude thoughtful involvement and reflection. Although we can say what in general the phenomenology of virtue is like, each of us only has some more or less dim idea of it from the extent to which we are virtuous—that is, for most of us, not very much
Bayne, Timothy J. (2006). Phenomenology and the feeling of doing: Wegner on the conscious will. In Susan Pockett, William P. Banks & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Does Consciousness Cause Behavior? MIT Press.   (Cited by 5 | Google)
Abstract: Given its ubiquitous presence in everyday experience, it is surprising that the phenomenology of doing—the experience of being an agent—has received such scant attention in the consciousness literature. But things are starting to change, and a small but growing literature on the content and causes of the phenomenology of first-person agency is beginning to emerge.2 One of the most influential and stimulating figures in this literature is Daniel Wegner. In a series of papers and his book The Illusion of Conscious Will (ICW) Wegner has developed..
Bayne, Timothy J. (ms). Putting the experience of acting in its place.   (Google)
Abstract: Although the notion can be found in Anscombe
Bayne, Timothy J. & Levy, Neil (2006). The feeling of doing: Deconstructing the phenomenology of agnecy. In Natalie Sebanz & Wolfgang Prinz (eds.), Disorders of Volition. MIT Press.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Abstract: Disorders of volition are often accompanied by, and may even be caused by, disruptions in the phenomenology of agency. Yet the phenomenology of agency is at present little explored. In this paper we attempt to describe the experience of normal agency, in order to uncover its representational content
Bayne, Tim (forthcoming). The phenomenology of agency. Philosophy Compass.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The phenomenology of agency has, until recently, been rather neglected, overlooked by both philosophers of action and philosophers of consciousness alike. Thankfully, all that has changed, and of late there has been an explosion of interest in what it is like to be an agent. 1 This burgeoning field crosses the traditional boundaries between disciplines: philosophers of psychopathology are speculating about the role that unusual experiences of agency might play in accounting for disorders of thought and action; cognitive scientists are developing models of how the phenomenology of agency is generated; and philosophers of mind are drawing connections between the phenomenology of agency and the nature of introspection, phenomenal character, and agency itself. My aim in this paper is not to provide an exhaustive survey of this recent literature, but to provide a..
Bayne, Tim, The sense of agency.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Where in cognitive architecture do experiences of agency lie? This chapter defends the claim that such states qualify as a species of perception. Reference to ‘the sense of agency’ should not be taken as a mere façon de parler but picks out a genuinely perceptual system. The chapter begins by outlining the perceptual model of agentive experience before turning to its two main rivals: the doxastic model, according to which agentive experience is really a species of belief, and the telic model, according to which agentive experience is really a species of agency. I conclude by defending the perceptual model against a number of objections to it, and by briefly exploring its implications for the question of how to approach the study of perception
Bittner, T. J. (1996). Consciousness and the act of will. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):31-41.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Carruthers, Peter, Action-awareness and the active mind.   (Google)
Abstract: Anscombe (1957) famously claimed that we have non-observational knowledge of our own physical actions. We have immediate knowledge of what it is that we are doing, she argued, without having to rely on or draw inferences from any independently accessible perceptual cues or bodily sensations. In a pair of recent papers and his new book, Peacocke (2007, 2008a, 2008b) takes up and defends this claim, and extends it into the domain of mental action.1 He aims to provide an account of action-awareness that will generalize to explain how we have immediate, non-inferential, awareness of our own judgments, decisions, imaginings, and so forth. These claims form an important component in a much larger philosophical edifice, with many implications for the philosophy of mind and for epistemology. But Peacocke’s argument limps at both steps. I shall show that he has provided insufficient grounds for accepting Anscombe’s claim, and that the account of action-awareness that he provides doesn’t, in any case, generalize to mental actions of the sort that he intends
Carter, William R. (1982). Comments on L. H. Davis, What is It Like to Be an Agent?. Erkenntnis 18 (September):215-221.   (Google | More links)
Carruthers, Peter (2007). The illusion of conscious will. Synthese 96.   (Cited by 3 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Wegner (Wegner, D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press) argues that conscious will is an illusion, citing a wide range of empirical evidence. I shall begin by surveying some of his arguments. Many are unsuccessful. But one—an argument from the ubiquity of self-interpretation—is more promising. Yet is suffers from an obvious lacuna, offered by so-called ‘dual process’ theories of reasoning and decision making (Evans, J., & Over, D. (1996). Rationality and reasoning. Psychology Press; Stanovich, K. (1999). Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Lawrence Erlbaum; Frankish, K. (2004). Mind and supermind. Cambridge University Press). I shall argue that this lacuna can be filled by a plausible a priori claim about the causal role of anything deserving to be called ‘a will.’ The result is that there is no such thing as conscious willing: conscious will is, indeed, an illusion.
Choudhury, Suparna & Blakemore, Sarah-Jayne (2006). Intentions, actions, and the self. In Susan Pockett, William P. Banks & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Does Consciousness Cause Behavior? MIT Press.   (Google)
Cole, Jonathan (2007). The phenomenology of agency and intention in the face of paralysis and insentience. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (3):309-325.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Studies of perception have focussed on sensation, though more recently the perception of action has, once more, become the subject of investigation. These studies have looked at acute experimental situations. The present paper discusses the subjective experience of those with either clinical syndromes of loss of movement or sensation (spinal cord injury, sensory neuronopathy syndrome or motor stroke), or with experimental paralysis or sensory loss. The differing phenomenology of these is explored and their effects on intention and agency discussed. It is shown that sensory loss can have effects on the focussing of motor command and that for some a sense of agency can return despite paralysis
Carruthers, Glenn (2009). Commentary on Synofzik, Vosgerau and Newen 2008. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2):515-520.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 the comparator model. I argue that contrary to Synofzik, Vosgerau and Newen’s reading the case of G.L. supports rather than contradicts the comparator model. Next I suggest how the comparator model can differentiate failures of action attribution in patients suffering parietal lobe lesions and delusions of alien control. I also argue that the apparently unexpected phenomenon of “hyperassociation” is predicted by the comparator model. Finally I suggest that as it stands Synofzik, Vosgerau and Newen’s model is not well specified enough to explain deficits in the sense of agency associated with delusions of thought insertion. Thus they have not met their second argumentative burden of showing how their model is more general than the comparator model.
Cunning, David (1999). Agency and consciousness. Synthese 120 (2):271-294.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Daprati, E.; Franck, N.; Georgieff, N.; Proust, Joëlle; Pacherie, Elisabeth; Dalery, J. & Jeannerod, Marc (1997). Looking for the agent: An investigation into consciousness of action and self-consciousness in schizophrenic patients. Cognition 65:71-86.   (Cited by 179 | Google | More links)
Davis, Lawrence H. (1982). What is it like to be an agent? Erkenntnis 18 (September):195-213.   (Annotation | Google | More links)
Dokic, J (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.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Eilan, Naomi M. & Roessler, Johannes (2003). Agency and self-awareness: Mechanisms and epistemology. In Johannes Roessler (ed.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 1 | Google)
Filice, Carlo (1988). Non-substantial streams of consciousness and free action. International Studies in Philosophy 20:1-11.   (Google)
Gallagher, Shaun (2005). Consciousness and free will. Danish Yearbook of Philosophy 39:7-16.   (Google)
Gallagher, Shaun (2007). The natural philosophy of agency. Philosophy Compass 2 (2):347–357.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: A review of several theories and brain-imaging experiments shows that there is no consensus about how to define the sense of agency. In some cases the sense of agency is construed in terms of bodily movement or motor control, in others it is linked to the intentional aspect of action. For some theorists it is the product of higher-order cognitive processes, for others it is a feature of first-order phenomenal experience. In this article I propose a multiple aspects account of the sense of agency
Georgieff, N. & Jeannerod, Marc (1998). Beyond consciousness of external reality: A ''who'' system for consciousness of action and self-consciousness. Consciousness and Cognition 7 (3):465-477.   (Cited by 88 | Google | More links)
Abstract: 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 that demonstrate, in normal subjects, the poor monitoring of action-related signals and the difficulty in recognizing self-produced actions are described. In patients presenting delusions, this difficulty dramatically increases and actions become systematically misattributed. These results point to schizophrenia and related disorders as a paradigmatic alteration of a ''Who?'' system for self-consciousness
Georgieff, Nicolas & Rossetti, Yves (1999). How does implicit and explicit knowledge fit in the consciousness of action? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (5):765-766.   (Google)
Abstract: 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 establish and would require further refinement of the model: action representation and the closely related consciousness of action, which is in turn related to self-consciousness
Gill, Michael (2008). Variability and moral phenomenology. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):99-113.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Many moral philosophers in the Western tradition have used phenomenological claims as starting points for philosophical inquiry; aspects of moral phenomenology have often been taken to be anchors to which any adequate account of morality must remain attached. This paper raises doubts about whether moral phenomena are universal and robust enough to serve the purposes to which moral philosophers have traditionally tried to put them. Persons’ experiences of morality may vary in a way that greatly limits the extent to which moral phenomenology can constitute a reason to favor one moral theory over another. Phenomenology may not be able to serve as a pre-theoretic starting point or anchor in the consideration of rival moral theories because moral phenomenology may itself be theory-laden. These doubts are illustrated through an examination of how moral phenomenology is used in the thought of Ralph Cudworth, Samuel Clarke, Joseph Butler, Francis Hutcheson, and Søren Kierkegaard
Hannay, Alastair (1991). Consciousness and the experience of freedom. In Ernest Lepore & Robert Van Gulick (eds.), John Searle and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Google)
Hohwy, Jakob (2005). The experience of mental causation. Behavior and Philosophy 32 (2):377-400.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: subjects mean when they report their mental states it is useful to be guided by a sound grasp of their concepts for mental events. 3 Though this is often ignored in favor of libertarian notions of free will, in which free action is seen as completely undetermined by the subject
Horgan, Terry & Timmons, Mark (2008). Prolegomena to a future phenomenology of morals. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):115-131.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: Moral phenomenology is (roughly) the study of those features of occurrent mental states with moral significance which are accessible through direct introspection, whether or not such states possess phenomenal character – a what-it-is-likeness. In this paper, as the title indicates, we introduce and make prefatory remarks about moral phenomenology and its significance for ethics. After providing a brief taxonomy of types of moral experience, we proceed to consider questions about the commonality within and distinctiveness of such experiences, with an eye on some of the main philosophical issues in ethics and how moral phenomenology might be brought to bear on them. In discussing such matters, we consider some of the doubts about moral phenomenology and its value to ethics that are brought up by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Michael Gill in their contributions to this issue
Horgan, Terence E.; Tienson, John L. & Graham, George (2003). The phenomenology of first-person agency. In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic.   (Cited by 14 | Google)
Hossack, Keith (2003). Consciousness in act and action. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 2 (3):187-203.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Hurley, Susan L. (1998). Self-consciousness, spontaneity, and the myth of the giving. In Consciousness in Action. Cambridge.   (Google)
Abstract: 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
Jeannerod, Marc (2003). Consciousness of action and self-consciousness: A cognitive neuroscience approach. In Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 12 | Google)
Jeannerod, Marc (2006). Consciousness of action as an embodied consciousness. In Susan Pockett, William P. Banks & Shaun Gallagher (eds.), Does Consciousness Cause Behavior? MIT Press.   (Google)
Jeannerod, Marc (2007). Consciousness of action. In Max Velmans & Susan Schneider (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness. Blackwell.   (Google)
Kriegel, Uriah (2008). Moral phenomenology: Foundational issues. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):1-19.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, I address the what, the how, and the why of moral phenomenology. I consider first the question What is moral phenomenology?, secondly the question How to pursue moral phenomenology?, and thirdly the question Why pursue moral phenomenology? My treatment of these questions is preliminary and tentative, and is meant not so much to settle them as to point in their answers’ direction
Leiter, Brian (2007). Nietzsche's theory of the will. Philosophers' Imprint 7 (7):1-15.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The essay offers a philosophical reconstruction of Nietzsche’s theory of the will, focusing on (1) Nietzsche’s account of the phenomenology of “willing” an action, the experience we have which leads us (causally) to conceive of ourselves as exercising our will; (2) Nietzsche’s arguments that the experiences picked out by the phenomenology are not causally connected to the resulting action (at least not in a way sufficient to underwrite ascriptions of moral responsibility); and (3) Nietzsche’s account of the actual causal genesis of action. Particular attention is given to passages from Daybreak, Beyond Good and Evil and Twilight of the Idols and a revised version of my earlier account of Nietzsche’s epiphenomenalism is defended. Finally, recent work in empirical psychology (Libet, Wegner) is shown to support Nietzsche’s skepticism that our “feeling” of will is a reliable guide to the causation of action
Mandik, Pete (forthcoming). Control consciousness. Topics in Cognitive Science.   (Google)
Abstract: 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. On 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 nonsensory, motor elements. More specifically, I will be arguing for the view that the neural basis of control consciousness is constituted by states of recurrent activation in relatively intermediate levels of the motor hierarchy.
Metzinger, Thomas (2006). Conscious volition and mental representation: Toward a more fine-grained analysis. In Natalie Sebanz & Wolfgang Prinz (eds.), Disorders of Volition. MIT Press.   (Cited by 11 | Google)
Abstract: A Bradford Book The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England
Mossel, Benjamin (2005). Action, control and sensations of acting. Philosophical Studies 124 (2):129-180.   (Cited by 4 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Sensations of acting and control have been neglected in theory of action. I argue that they form the core of action and are integral and indispensible parts of our actions, participating as they do in feedback loops consisting of our intentions in acting, the bodily movements required for acting and the sensations of acting. These feedback loops underlie all activities in which we engage when we act and generate our control over our movements.The events required for action according to the causal theory, or Searle
Nahmias, Eddy (2005). Agency, authorship, and illusion. Consciousness and Cognition 14 (4):771-785.   (Cited by 2 | Google)
Abstract: Daniel Wegner argues that conscious will is an illusion. I examine the adequacy of his theory of apparent mental causation and whether, if accurate, it suggests that our experience of agency and authorship should be considered illusory. I examine various interpretations of this claim and raise problems for each interpretation. I also distinguish between the experiences of agency and authorship.
Nahmias, Eddy A. (2002). When consciousness matters: A critical review of Daniel Wegner's the illusion of conscious will. Philosophical Psychology 15 (4):527-541.   (Cited by 6 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In The illusion of conscious will , Daniel Wegner offers an exciting, informative, and potentially threatening treatise on the psychology of action. I offer several interpretations of the thesis that conscious will is an illusion. The one Wegner seems to suggest is "modular epiphenomenalism": conscious experience of will is produced by a brain system distinct from the system that produces action; it interprets our behavior but does not, as it seems to us, cause it. I argue that the evidence Wegner presents to support this theory, though fascinating, is inconclusive and, in any case, he has not shown that conscious will does not play a crucial causal role in planning, forming intentions, etc. This theory's potential blow to our self-conception turns out to be a glancing one
Newen, Albert, Reply to Carruthers.   (Google)
Abstract: Glenn Carruthers presents a very detailed and thorough critique of our multi-factorial twostep account of agency to the effect that it would not succeed in being superior and more general as the comparator model (CM). This critique gives us the opportunity to refine some of our points and to make the overall argument clearer. As Carruthers notes, “This move [the distinction between a feeling of agency (FoA) and a judgment of agency (JoA)] usefully limits the explanatory target of the CM to FoA”. This is exactly right in our view but contrasts with a lot of views present in the empirical literature which neglect this important difference. As a paradigmatic example see the claim by Jeannerod that “agency judgements made by the subject are based on the state of the comparator (Jeannerod, 1999, pp. 17-18) (for further experimental conflation of feeling and judgement of agency see e.g.Daprati et al., 1997; Farrer et al., 2003b). Thus, with this point we are not only fighting straw men but show severe limits of the explanatory force of the comparator model
Nida-Rümelin, Martine (2007). Doings and subject causation. Erkenntnis 67 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In the center of this paper is a phenomenological claim: we experience ourselves in our own doings and we experience others when we perceive them in their doings as active in the sense of being a cause of the corresponding physical event. These experiences are fundamental to the way we view ourselves and others. It is therefore desirable for any philosophical theory to be compatible with the content of these experiences and thus to avoid the attribution of radical and permanent error to human experience. A theory of ‘subject causation’ according to which the active subject continuously and simultaneously causes physical changes is sketched. This account is—according to the phenomenological claim defended—compatible with the content of our daily experiences in doing something and in observing others in their doings and it has a number of further more theoretical advantages: it does not touch the autonomy of neurophysiology and it is compatible with a thesis of supervenience of the mental on the physical. It does however require a weak version of subject-body dualism
Pacherie, Elisabeth & Bayne, Tim (2007). Narrators and Comparators: The Architecture of Agentive Self-awareness. Synthese 159:475 - 491.   (Google)
Abstract: 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.
Pacherie, Elisabeth (2007). The Anarchic Hand Syndrome and Utilization Behavior: A Window onto Agentive Self-Awareness. Functional Neurology 22 (4):211 - 217.   (Google)
Abstract: Two main approaches can be discerned in the literature on agentive self-awareness: a top-down approach, according to which agentive self-awareness is fundamentally holistic in nature and involves the operations of a central-systems narrator, and a bottom-up approach that sees agentive self-awareness as produced by lowlevel processes grounded in the very machinery responsible for motor production and control. Neither approach is entirely satisfactory if taken in isolation; however, the question of whether their combination would yield a full account of agentive self-awareness remains very much open. In this paper, I contrast two disorders affecting the control of voluntary action: the anarchic hand syndrome and utilization behavior. Although in both conditions patients fail to inhibit actions that are elicited by objects in the environment but inappropriate with respect to the wider context, these actions are experienced in radically different ways by the two groups of patients. I discuss how top-down and bottom-up processes involved in the generation of agentive self-awareness would have to be related in order to account for these differences.
Pacherie, Elisabeth (2008). The Phenomenology of Action: A Conceptual Framework. Cognition 107 (1):179 - 217.   (Google)
Abstract: After a long period of neglect, the phenomenology of action has recently regained its place in the agenda of philosophers and scientists alike. The recent explosion of interest in the topic highlights its complexity. The purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual framework allowing for a more precise characterization of the many facets of the phenomenology of agency, of how they are related and of their possible sources. The key assumption guiding this attempt is that the processes through which the phenomenology of action is generated and the processes involved in the specification and control of action are strongly interconnected. I argue in favor of a three-tiered dynamic model of intention, link it to an expanded version of the internal model theory of action control and specification, and use this theoretical framework to guide an analysis of the contents, possible sources and temporal course of complementary aspects of the phenomenology of action.
Pacherie, Elisabeth (2007). The Sense of Control and the Sense of Agency. Psyche 13 (1):1 - 30.   (Google)
Abstract: The now growing literature on the content and sources of the phenomenology of first-person agency highlights the multi-faceted character of the phenomenology of agency and makes it clear that the experience of agency includes many other experiences as components. This paper examines the possible relations between these components of our experience of acting and the processes involved in action specification and action control. After a brief discussion of our awareness of our goals and means of action, it will focus on the sense of agency for a given action, understood as the sense the agent has that he or she is the author of that action. I argue that the sense of agency can be analyzed as a compound of more basic experiences, including the experience of intentional causation, the sense of initiation and the sense of control. I further argue that the sense of control may itself be analysed into a number of more specific, partially dissociable experiences.
Peacocke, Christopher (2003). Action: Awareness, ownership, and knowledge. In Johannes Roessler (ed.), Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. Oxford: Clarendon Press.   (Cited by 7 | Google)
Preston, Jesse; Gray, Kurt & Wegner, Daniel M. (2006). The godfather of soul. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (5):482-+.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: An important component of souls is the capacity for free will, as the origin of agency within an individual. Belief in souls arises in part from the experience of conscious will, a compelling feeling of personal causation that accompanies almost every action we take, and suggests that an immaterial self is in charge of the physical body
Prinz, Jesse J. (2007). All consciousness is perceptual. In Brian P. McLaughlin & Jonathan D. Cohen (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind. Blackwell.   (Cited by 3 | Google)
Rosenthal, David M. (2002). The timing of conscious states. Consciousness and Cognition 11 (2):215-20.   (Cited by 11 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Striking experimental results by Benjamin Libet and colleagues have had an impor- tant impact on much recent discussion of consciousness. Some investigators have sought to replicate or extend Libet’s results (Haggard, 1999; Haggard & Eimer, 1999; Haggard, Newman, & Magno, 1999; Trevena & Miller, 2002), while others have focused on how to interpret those findings (e.g., Gomes, 1998, 1999, 2002; Pockett, 2002), which many have seen as conflicting with our commonsense picture of mental functioning
Sachse, Christian (2007). What about a reductionist approach? Comments on Terry Horgan. Erkenntnis 67 (2).   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In his work, Horgan argues for the compatibilism of agency, mental state-causation, and physical causal-closure. We generally assume a causally closed physical world that seems to exclude agency in the sense of mental state-causation in addition to physical causation. However, Horgan argues for an account of agency that satisfies the experience of our own as acting persons and that is compatible with physical causal-closure. Mental properties are causal properties but not identical with physical properties because there are different ontological levels. In this commentary, I shall reconsider the essential issues of this compatibilism (1), focus on a problem for Horgan’s conception of agent causation that arises from the causal argument for ontological reductionism (2), and propose to embed Horgan’s conception of agency within a reductionist approach in order to vindicate the indispensable character of agency (3)
Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter (2008). Is moral phenomenology unified? Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 7 (1):85-97.   (Cited by 2 | Google | More links)
Abstract: In this short paper, I argue that the phenomenology of moral judgment is not unified across different areas of morality (involving harm, hierarchy, reciprocity, and impurity) or even across different relations to harm. Common responses, such as that moral obligations are experienced as felt demands based on a sense of what is fitting, are either too narrow to cover all moral obligations or too broad to capture anything important and peculiar to morality. The disunity of moral phenomenology is, nonetheless, compatible with some uses of moral phenomenology for moral epistemology and with the objectivity and justifiability of parts of morality
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Strawson, Galen (2003). Mental ballistics or the involuntariness of spontaniety. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (3):227-257.   (Google | More links)
Straus, Erwin W. (ed.) (1967). Phenomenology Of Will And Action. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.   (Google)
Sundstrom, Par (online). Consciousness and intentionality of action.   (Google)
Synofzik, M.; Vosgerau, G. & Newen, A. (2008). Beyond the comparator model: A multi-factorial two-step account of agency. Consciousness and Cognition.   (Google)
Abstract: There is an increasing amount of empirical work investigating the sense of agency, i.e. the registration that we are the initiators of our own actions. Many studies try to relate the sense of agency to an internal feed-forward mechanism, called the ‘‘comparator model’’. In this paper, we draw a sharp distinction between a non-conceptual level of feeling of agency and a conceptual level of judgement of agency. By analyzing recent empirical studies, we show that the comparator model is not able to explain either. Rather, we argue for a two-step account: a multifactorial weighting process of different agency indicators accounts for the feeling of agency, which is, in a second step, further processed by conceptual modules to form an attribution judgement. This new framework is then applied to disruptions of agency in schizophrenia, for which the comparator model also fails. Two further extensions are discussed: We show that the comparator model can neither be extended to account for the sense of ownership (which also has to be differentiated into a feeling and a judgement of ownership) nor for the sense of agency for thoughts. Our framework, however, is able to provide a unified account for the sense of agency for both actions and thoughts.
Synofzik, Matthis; Vosgerau, Gottfried & Newen, Albert (2008). I move, therefore I am: A new theoretical framework to investigate agency and ownership. Consciousness and Cognition 17:411 - 424.   (Google)
Abstract: The neurocognitive structure of the acting self has recently been widely studied, yet is still perplexing and remains an often confounded issue in cognitive neuroscience, psychopathology and philosophy. We provide a new systematic account of two of its main features, the sense of agency and the sense of ownership, demonstrating that although both features appear as phenomenally uniform, they each in fact are complex crossmodal phenomena of largely heterogeneous functional and (self-)representational levels. These levels can be arranged within a gradually evolving, onto- and phylogenetically plausible framework which proceeds from basic non-conceptual sensorimotor processes to more complex conceptual and meta-representational processes of agency and ownership, respectively. In particular, three fundamental levels of agency and ownership processing have to be distinguished: The level of feeling, thinking and social interaction. This naturalistic account will not only allow to ‘‘ground the self in action”, but also provide an empirically testable taxonomy for cognitive neuroscience and a new tool for disentangling agency and ownership disturbances in psychopathology (e.g. alien hand, anarchic hand, anosognosia for one’s own hemiparesis).
Siegel, Susanna (2005). The Phenomenology of Efficacy. Philosophical Topics 33 (1):265-84.   (Google)
Velmans, Max (2004). Why conscious free will both is and isn't an illusion. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):677.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: Wegner’s analysis of the illusion of conscious will is close to my own account of how conscious experiences relate to brain processes. But our analyses differ somewhat on how conscious will is not an illusion. Wegner argues that once conscious will arises it enters causally into subsequent mental processing. I argue that while his causal story is accurate, it remains a first-person story. Conscious free will is not an illusion in the sense that this first-person story is compatible with and complementary to a third-person account of voluntary processing in the mind/brain
Vosgerau, Gottfried & Newen, Albert (2007). Thoughts, motor actions, and the self. Mind and Language 22 (1):22–43.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The comparator-model, originally developed to explain motor action, has recently been invoked to explain several aspects of the self. However, in the first place it may not be used to explain a basic self-world distinction because it presupposes one. Our alternative account is based on specific systematic covariation between action and perception. Secondly, the comparator model cannot explain the feeling of ownership of thoughts. We argue—contra Frith and Campbell—that thoughts are not motor processes and therefore cannot be described by the comparator-model. Rather, thoughts can be the triggering cause (intention) for actions. An alternative framework for the explanation of thought insertion in schizophrenics is presented
Wakefield, Jerome C. & Dreyfus, Hubert L. (1991). Intentionality and the phenomenology of action. In Ernest Lepore & Robert Van Gulick (eds.), John Searle and His Critics. Cambridge: Blackwell.   (Cited by 14 | Google)
Wegner, Daniel M. & Wheatley, T. (1999). Apparent mental causation: Sources of the experience of will. American Psychologist 54:480-492.   (Cited by 123 | Google | More links)
Wegner, Daniel M. (2004). Frequently asked questions about conscious will. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (5):679-692.   (Cited by 1 | Google | More links)
Abstract: The commentators' responses to The Illusion of Conscious Will reveal a healthy range of opinions – pro, con, and occasionally stray. Common concerns and issues are summarized here in terms of 11 “frequently asked questions,” which often center on the theme of how the experience of conscious will supports the creation of the self as author of action
Whiteley, C. H. (1973). Mind In Action: An Essay In Philosophical Psychology. Oxford University Press,.   (Cited by 5 | Google)