Self-Knowing Agents

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Lucy O'Brien argues that a satisfactory account of first-person reference and self-knowledge needs to concentrate on our nature as agents. She considers two main questions. First, what account of first-person reference can we give that respects the guaranteed nature of such reference? Second, what account can we give of our knowledge of our mental and physical actions? Clearly written, with rigorous discussion of rival views, this book will be of interest to anyone working in the philosophy of mind and action.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"O'Brien moves briskly, but her pace is one of the book's virtues. She doesn't pretend to be offering definitive arguments for her views (although she offers many good ones). Instead, she is sensitive to the fact that the appeal of her approach is its explanatory power, and she makes a compelling case for the utility of agent's awareness by showing how it navigatess waters that are managed far less well by competitors. I highly recommend her work."—R.W. Fischer, The Review of Metaphysics

"In Self-Knowing Agents Lucy O'Brien accounts for some of the most perplexing features of first-personal self-knowledge by appealing to our awareness of ourselves as agents of mental and physical acts. This is difficult territory, as likely to lead one to hand-waving generalities as to forest-blind technicalities. O'Brien negotiates it excellently, providing a theory that is both well situated in historical debates and well motivated by the sorts of things we care about. This book will be must reading for those interested in the sort of privileged access marked by the 'essential indexical' as well as for those interested in non-Cartesian views that allow a sort of privileged access to bodily actions."—Robert J. Howell, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199261482
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/11/2007
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Lucy O'Brien is a Reader in Philosophy at University College London

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Table of Contents

Part I.
1. Introduction
2. Arguments for the No-Reference View of 'I'
3. Perceptual Models of First Person Reference
4. The Self-Reference Rule
5. The Agency Account
6. Agent's Awareness and Knowledge of Our Mental Actions
Part II
7. Introduction
8. What are Actions?
9. On Knowing One's Own Physical Actions
10. Bodily Awareness
11. Bodily Awareness and Self-Knowledge

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