... contain[s] a number of excellent and thought-provoking contributions. It bears comparison to The Body and the Self which has become a much quoted reference volume. There is no reason to assume that this will not also become true of Agency and Self-Awareness. Times Literary Supplement 'This fine collection comprises seventeen articles by philosophers and psychologists, and a comprehensive introduction by the co-editors. The 47-page introduction, entitled Agency and Self-Awareness: Mechanisms and Epistemology, provides a superb entree to both the topic of the collection and the experimental work the various authors draw upon; it is worth the price of admission on its own... The collection is certainly required reading for anyone interested in action theory or the role of agency in self-conception. It will also be useful for those who work on self-knowledge and the philosophy of psychology.' Brie Gertler, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews This collection of seventeen essays, plus an excellent editor's introduction, is noteworthy in the interdisciplinary stance taken. Containing cutting-edge contributions from both philosophers and psychologists, it will be valuable to students and practitioners of both disciplines. This cross-fertilisation of ideas is both instructive and a pleasure to see. Philosophers have much to learn from their colleagues in psychology departments, and vice versa ... Whichever side of the divide one is on, one cannot fail to learn from the way in which this interaction has been carried out ... this fascinating volume of essays ... will repay serious attention ... provides an excellent addition to a growing interdisciplinary field. Those interested in either the philosophical or psychological aspects of action will find it a great source of stimulating material. Human Nature Review
Leading philosophers and psychologists join forces to investigate a set of problems to do with agency and self-awareness, in seventeen specially written essays. In recent years there has been much psychological and neurological work purporting to show that consciousness and self-awareness play no role in causing actions, and indeed to demonstrate that free will is an illusion. The essays in this volume subject the assumptions that motivate such claims to sustained interdisciplinary scrutiny. Patients with Anarchic Hand syndrome sometimes find their hands perform apparently goal-directed actions which the patients disown, yet seem to be unable to suppress (for example, reaching out for someone else's food in a restaurant). On the face of it, these patients lack the kind of control and self-awareness we ordinarily take ourselves to have when acting intentionally. Questions raised by this phenomenon include: What is involved in being aware of an action as one's own? What is the nature of the control these patients are lacking and which characterizes normal intentional actions?
What is the relation between a priori explanations of consciousness and self-consciousness, on the one hand, and empirical work on the information-processing mechanisms involved in action control, on the other? Questions of action control and self-awareness tend to be treated separately in both philosophy and psychology. The central idea behind this volume is that outstanding unresolved issues on both topics, and in both disciplines, can only be resolved by an interdisciplinary examination of the relations between them. The editors' useful introductory essay offers a guide to cross-disciplinary reading of the contributions, and makes connections between them explicit. The book will be compulsory reading for psychologists and philosophers working on action explanation, and for anyone interested in the relation between the brain sciences and consciousness.