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.