Philosophy Tag

Philosophy Tag

We restarted Philosophy Tag a couple of weeks ago, with me tagging Suzy Killmister (Connecticut) for her paper, “The Woody Allen Puzzle: How ‘Authentic Alienation’ Complicates Autonomy.” Let’s see who she tagged…

Theories of autonomy are paying increasing attention to the social world in which the agent acts, and how this impacts her autonomy. All too often, it feels like action theory hasn’t got the memo: action is still primarily understood in terms of what’s going on in the agent’s head, and how this translates into bodily movement. Alisa Bierria’s paper “Missing in Action: Violence, Power, and Discerning Agency” is a refreshing exception to this tendency. The starting point of Bierria’s paper is the possibility that action can fail when an agent’s intention is misinterpreted, or “defined away from her”, by others. (I see fruitful parallels here to Langton and Hornsby’s work on communicative silencing through failure of uptake). Bierria then complicates this picture through the idea of ‘insurgent’ agency—agency can still be exercised, she argues, through subverting the definitions that are misapplied to one’s actions, even while one’s agency is being constrained by those misinterpretations. Great paper, Alisa Bierria; now you’re it!

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