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WINNER OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL EXPLORATIONS ESSAY PRIZE 2013: The relations between agency, identification, and alienation

Hinshelwood, A; (2013) WINNER OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL EXPLORATIONS ESSAY PRIZE 2013: The relations between agency, identification, and alienation. Philosophical Explorations , 16 (3) 243 - 258. 10.1080/13869795.2013.815260. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper examines the relations between, on the one hand, accounts of the distinction between an agent's identifying with, as opposed to feeling alienated from, their attitudes; and on the other, metaphysical accounts of action. It claims that a commitment to an event-causal conception of agency, which would analyse agency in terms of the causal potency of psychological states and events, appears to render mandatory a particular style of account of identification and alienation – namely, the hierarchical model offered by Harry Frankfurt and Michael Bratman. It is argued that such accounts fall foul of a dilemma: the Authority Problem. The failure of attempts to avoid the Authority Problem is then used to motivate an attractive alternative style of account of the distinction, offered by Richard Moran. However, it is pressed that Moran's account rests on claims about agency which seem incompatible with the event-causal conception of agency. By making the links between the metaphysics of agency and accounts of identification and alienation more explicit, the paper allows us to better comprehend both the apparent need for and characteristic failures of some traditional accounts of identification and alienation, as well as make clear the action-theoretical debt incurred by those who would offer an alternative.

Type: Article
Title: WINNER OF THE PHILOSOPHICAL EXPLORATIONS ESSAY PRIZE 2013: The relations between agency, identification, and alienation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13869795.2013.815260
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13869795.2013.815260
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted. Permission is granted subject to the terms of the License under which the work was published. Please check the License conditions for the work which you wish to reuse. Full and appropriate attribution must be given. This permission does not cover any third party copyrighted material which may appear in the work requested.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1456765
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