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  • Cited by 8
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    This chapter has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Franklin, Christopher Evan 2017. Bratman on identity over time and identification at a time. Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 20, Issue. 1, p. 1.

    Blumenthal-Barby, J. S. 2016. Biases and Heuristics in Decision Making and Their Impact on Autonomy. The American Journal of Bioethics, Vol. 16, Issue. 5, p. 5.

    Fateh-Moghadam, Bijan and Gutmann, Thomas 2014. Governing [through] Autonomy. The Moral and Legal Limits of “Soft Paternalism”. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 17, Issue. 3, p. 383.

    Miller, Christian 2013. Identifying with Our Desires. Theoria, Vol. 79, Issue. 2, p. 127.

    Hassoun, Nicole 2013. Human Rights and the Minimally Good Life. Res Philosophica, Vol. 90, Issue. 3, p. 413.

    Rocha, James 2011. Autonomy Within Subservient Careers. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, Vol. 14, Issue. 3, p. 313.

    Herr, Ranjoo Seodu 2010. Agency without autonomy: valuational agency. Journal of Global Ethics, Vol. 6, Issue. 3, p. 239.

    Sneddon, Andrew 2009. Alternative motivation: a new challenge to moral judgment internalism. Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 12, Issue. 1, p. 41.

  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: December 2009

1 - Planning Agency, Autonomous Agency



Humans seem sometimes to be autonomous, self-governed agents: Their actions seem at times to be not merely the upshot of antecedent causes but, rather, under the direction of the agent herself in ways that qualify as a form of governance by that agent. What sense can we make of this apparent phenomenon of governance by the agent herself?

Well, we can take as given for present purposes that human agents have complex psychological economies and that we frequently can explain what they do by appeal to the functioning of these psychological economies. She raised her arm because she wanted to warn her friend; she worked on the chapter because of her plan to finish her book; she helped the stranger because she knew this was the right thing to do; he left the room because he did not want to show his anger. These are all common, everyday instances of explaining action by appeal to psychological functioning. In doing this, we appeal to attitudes of the agent: beliefs, intentions, desires, and so on. The agent herself is part of the story; it is, after all, her attitudes that we cite. These explanations do not, however, simply refer to the agent; they appeal to attitudes that are elements in her psychic economy. The attitudes they cite may include attitudes that are themselves about the agent and her attitudes – desires about desires, perhaps. But what does the explanatory work is, in the end, the functioning of (perhaps in some cases higher-order) attitudes. These explanations are, I will say, nonhomuncular.

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Personal Autonomy
  • Online ISBN: 9780511614194
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