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Agency and Responsibility

Project Description:

Intentional agency is among the most thriving areas of interaction between philosophy and cognitive science. Nonetheless, scholars in both disciplines have struggled in offering a coherent unified account of how intentional agency unfolds in the natural world. The problem displays an immediate relevance for ethical and normative practices. Indeed, the intentional actions that we are in control of, as derived from conscious intents, are recognised as specific targets of evaluative considerations, including responsibility attributions. The project sets out to take up the existing challenges and investigate the research questions that follow. How can we account for our ability to act intentionally, exhibiting conscious control over our behaviour? Does intentional and responsible agency require an active causal role for conscious mental states? Does responsibility for action require the ability to consciously access the motivational sources of one’s own behaviour? To what extent do cognitive science and the philosophy of agency respectively help to settle the dispute about borderline cases of intentional agency? Our overarching proposal is that intentional action consists of intrinsically complex, multi-faceted processes, only partially accessible to consciousness and not entirely compatible with classic philosophical views of intentional agency. Building on this understanding of agency, a crucial part of the project will consist in examining its implications for theories of responsibility.


  • Sofia Bonicalzi
  • Ophelia Deroy


The project is supported by a LMU Research Fellowship, co-financed by the Marie SkÅ‚odowska COFUND scheme, European Union’s Framework Program for Research "Horizon 2020".