First-Personal Aspects of Agency
Baker (Lynne Rudder)
Source: Metaphilosophy, 42(1-2):1–16, 2011
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. On standard accounts, actions are caused by reasons (Davidson), and reasons are taken to be neural phenomena. Since neural phenomena are wholly understandable from a third-person perspective, standard views have no room for any ineliminable first-personal elements in an account of the causation1 of action.
  2. I aim to show that first-person perspectives2 play essential roles in both human and nonhuman agency. Nonhuman agents have rudimentary first-person perspectives3, whereas human agents — at least rational agents and moral agents — have robust first-person perspectives4.
  3. I conclude with a view of intentional causation5, according to which reasons are constituted by (but not identical to) neural phenomena. The idea of constitution without identity allows for a causal account of action that automatically includes first-personal aspects of agency.


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