Project

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Philosophy and Phenomenology of Agency

English title Philosophy and Phenomenology of Agency
Applicant Nida-Rümelin Martine
Number 132455
Funding scheme ProDoc
Research institution Departement für Philosophie Philosophische Fakultät Universität Freiburg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.10.2010 - 31.01.2014
Approved amount 306'672.00
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Keywords (11)

phenomenology; agency; freedom; thought; illusion; action; phenomenological reflection; free will; mental action; mental causation; agent-causation

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
The project aims at the development of a general empirically informed philosophical theory of agency which covers the realm of bodily as well as mental action. The analysis of how we experience ourselves in our bodily and mental behaviour will play a central role in this project.
Human agency is a long-established subject of interest among philosophers, but only recently analytical philosophers have started to take the phenomenological dimension of agency seriously into account. The way in which we experience ourselves as an agent is of great importance for a theory of human agency. The question of how one should account of the experience of action is an important question in its own right. Do we experience ourselves as free in our actions? What is it to experience ourselves as the source of our own action? What is the content of these agentive experiences? An adequate account of agentive experience is relevant for the evaluation of theoretical approaches to human agency and it is important for the interpretations of relevant empirical findings.
A systematic account of agentive experience will be developed for both bodily and mental agency. The interpretation and the philosophical consequences of empirical data relevant to theoretical accounts of agency will be an important supplement to our phenomenological approach. General methodological issues concerning the relation between the phenomenological and the empirical approach will be addressed.
Progress in our understanding of agentive experience makes it possible to tackle long-standing philosophical problems (such as the question of determinism and free will or issues about moral responsibility) in a new manner. The current debate about phenomenal consciousness has mainly focused on sensorial experiences and was thereby led to mistaken conclusions. Widening the scope of the cases studied will open new perspectives in that debate. Furthermore, our scientifically informed approach should help to gain a better understanding of the complex interrelation between our natural understanding of ourselves, philosophical reflection and scientific theorizing.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Sollte das Standardmodell der mentalen Verursachung aufgegeben werden?
Baierlé Emmanuel (2013), Sollte das Standardmodell der mentalen Verursachung aufgegeben werden?, in Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 120. Jahrgang(1. Halbban), 124-130.
I was not aware I was doing that
Müller Franziska, I was not aware I was doing that, in Dell'Utri Fabio B. M., Caputo Stefano (ed.), Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Cambriddge.
Review of Erasmus Mayr - Understanding Human Agency
Baierlé Emmanuel, Review of Erasmus Mayr - Understanding Human Agency, in Dialectica.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Centre Nicod, Paris, Prof. Elisabeth Pacherie France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Philosophy, University of Cornell, Prof. Derk Pereboom United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Philosophy, Rice University, Prof. Charles Siewert United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Philosophy, Durham, Prof. Jonathan Lowe Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Philosophy, University of Arizona, Prof. Terence Horgan United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Department of Philosophy, University of Miami, Prof. Elijah Chudnoff United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Monday Colloquium Individual talk Conscious Belief 02.12.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Workshop on Cognitive Phenomenology Talk given at a conference Two Kinds of Cognitive Experiences 26.11.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Monday Colloquium Individual talk I was not aware I was doing that 06.10.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland Müller Franziska;
A Sense of Free Will Talk given at a conference Is Our Agentive Experience Compatible with Determinism? 18.06.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
The Metaphysics of Free Will, Empowerment, Agency and Freedom Talk given at a conference Phenomenological Reflections on Free Decisions: In Defence of Agential Powers 17.04.2013 UMB, Ås, Norway Baierlé Emmanuel; Nida-Rümelin Martine;
Prodoc Colloquium 2013 Talk given at a conference Incompatibilist Phenomenology 27.01.2013 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
ProDoc Colloquium 2013 Talk given at a conference Instantaneous Thoughts 27.01.2013 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Workshop with Lucy O'Brien Talk given at a conference Comment on Lucy O'Brien's On Knowing One's Own Actions 07.11.2012 Fribourg, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
Convegno della società italiana di filosofia analitica (SIFA) Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian? 14.09.2012 Alghero, Sardegna, Italien, Italy Baierlé Emmanuel;
Convegno della società italiana di filosofia analitica (SIFA) Talk given at a conference The Problem of Minimal Action 14.09.2012 Alghero, Italy Müller Franziska;
Conference of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology (ESPP) Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian? 31.08.2012 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Baierlé Emmanuel;
End of Term Workshop Talk given at a conference Intellectual Experiences 21.06.2012 Coglio, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Monday Colloquium Individual talk The Problem With Minimal Action 21.05.2012 Fribourg, Switzerland Müller Franziska;
Congrès de la Société francophone de philosophie analytique (SOPHA) Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian ? 04.05.2012 Paris, France Baierlé Emmanuel;
Congrès de la Société francophone de philosophie analytique (SOPHA) Talk given at a conference Phenomenology of Minimal Action 04.05.2012 Paris, France Müller Franziska;
Freedom, Responsibility, and Non-reductive Physicalism, workshop with Derek Pereboom (Cornell) Talk given at a conference Comment on Pereboom's Nonreductive Physicalism and Mental Compositional Properties 24.04.2012 Fribourg, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
Interdisciplinary Aspects in Mind, Language and Culture Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian? 22.03.2012 Bielefeld, Deutschland, Germany Baierlé Emmanuel;
Lucerne Graduate Conference 2012 Talk given at a conference Perceiving Intention in Action 11.02.2012 Lucerne, Switzerland Müller Franziska;
Lucerne Graduate Conference 2012 Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian? 11.02.2012 Lucerne, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
Reserach Colloquium Département de Philosophie de l'University de Neuchâtel Individual talk Le paradoxe de Newcomb en tant qu'argument incompatibiliste 13.12.2011 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
Phenomenology and Intentionality - The Significance of Phenomenological Research in Philosophical Theorizing Talk given at a conference Comment on Chudnoff's 'Phenomenal Holism' 12.11.2011 Fribourg, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Phenomenology and Intentionality - The Significance of Phenomenological Research in Philosophical Theorizing Talk given at a conference Comment on Elisabeth Pacherie “The Sense of Agency” 12.11.2011 Fribourg, Switzerland Müller Franziska;
Prodoc Colloquium 2011 Talk given at a conference Omission 23.10.2011 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Müller Franziska;
Prodoc Colloquium 2011 Talk given at a conference The Self in Agentive Experience 23.10.2011 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Prodoc Colloquium 2011 Talk given at a conference Is our Phenomenology Libertarian? 23.10.2011 Ovronnaz, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
End of Term Workshop Talk given at a conference Presentational Phenomenology 21.06.2011 Coglio, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Monday Colloquium Individual talk Newcomb's Paradox 07.03.2011 Fribourg, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;
Talk at Jean Nicod Individual talk Doings, Actions, Free Will and the Phenomenology of Agency 17.12.2010 Paris, France Nida-Rümelin Martine;
Monday Colloquium Individual talk Instantaneous Thoughts and the Stream of Consciousness 22.11.2010 Fribourg, Switzerland Naïto Jacob;
Causation, Coherence, and Concepts - Conference in Honour of Wolfgang Spohn Talk given at a conference Causality and Agency. What happens when we bring about what we do? 11.11.2010 Konstanz, Deutschland, Germany Nida-Rümelin Martine;
Personal Agency, workshop with Prof. Jonathan Lowe (Durham) Talk given at a conference Comment on 'Reasons for Action' and comment on 'Subject-Causation-Volitionism' 28.10.2010 Fribourg, Switzerland Baierlé Emmanuel;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop on Cognitive Phenomenology 25.11.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland
A Sense of Free Will 18.06.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland
Workshop on Intuition with Prof. Elijah Chudnoff (Miami) 27.05.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland
Personal Agency, workshop with Prof. Jonathan Lowe (Durham) 28.10.2010 Fribourg, Switzerland

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
118626 Properties and relations 01.10.2007 ProDoc
118623 Mind, Normativity, Self and Properties 01.10.2007 ProDoc
118623 Mind, Normativity, Self and Properties 01.10.2007 ProDoc
189031 The Subject of Experiences: The Significance of its Metaphysical Nature in the Philosophy of Mind 01.12.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)
118625 Les frontières du moi 01.03.2008 ProDoc
118606 Normes épistémiques rationnelles et sociales 01.03.2008 ProDoc
118603 Causalité mentale, fonctionnalisme et métaphysique de la causalité 01.12.2007 ProDoc
118610 First person access, phenomenal reflection and phenomenal concepts 01.06.2008 ProDoc
166320 Phenomenal Consciousness and Self-Awareness 01.12.2016 Project funding (Div. I-III)
124891 The Mind and the Self 01.09.2009 ProDoc
151694 La phénoménologie cognitive 01.01.2014 Doc.Mobility

Abstract

The project aims at the development of a general empirically informed philosophical theory of agency which covers the realm of bodily as well as mental action. The analysis of how we experience ourselves in our bodily and mental behaviour (phenomenological reflection) will play a central role in the development of the vocabulary and the theoretical account. Subproject 'Bodily Action': We will investigate the phenomenology of bodily action, deliberation and decisions to act in order to use the results for an evaluation of philosophical theories of agency and human freedom. The phenomenology of agency can put constraints on theories of agency: philosophical and ontological theories of what it is to act and what it is to act freely should not imply that we are the victim of a permanent and ubiquitous illusion. Phenomenological constraints of this kind, however, cannot be decisive: they might be overruled by other theoretical considerations and by results in the empirical sciences. The interpretation of relevant empirical data in cognitive science and neurology must therefore be taken into consideration and integrated into the overall evaluation of theories of agency. Subproject 'Mental Agency:The aim of this part of the project is to extend the research on the phenomenology of agency to the phenomenology of mental action. Like in the realm of bodily movements there is, in the domain of mental episodes, a distinction to be drawn between what the thinker does actively and what merely happens to the thinker. A central aim of the project is to provide an account of this difference between active and passive in the mental realm. We will base the account on a careful phenomenological analysis of what it is like to experience oneself as active in one’s mental doings. We will investigate whether and how the account of the difference between active and passive can be integrated into a general theory of agency.
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