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John M. Doris presents a new account of agency and responsibility, which reconciles our understanding of ourselves as moral agents with psychological research on the unconscious mind. Much philosophical theorizing maintains that the exercise of morally responsible agency consists in judgment and behavior ordered by accurate reflection. On such theories, when human beings are able to direct their lives in the manner philosophers have dignified with the honorific 'agency', it's because they know what they're doing, and why they're doing it. This understanding is compromised by quantities of psychological research on unconscious processing, which suggests that accurate reflection is distressingly uncommon; very often behavior is ordered by surprisingly inaccurate self-awareness. Thus, if agency requires accurate reflection, people seldom exercise agency, and skepticism about agency threatens. To counter the skeptical threat, John M.Doris proposes an alternative theory that requires neither reflection nor accurat
Oxford University Press
March 19, 2015
About the author
John M. Doris is Professor in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program and Philosophy Department, Washington University in St. Louis. He works at the intersection of cognitive science, moral psychology, and philosophical ethics, and has published in many leading journals. Doris has been awarded fellowships from Michigan's Institute for the Humanities, Princeton's University Center for Human Values, the National Humanities Center, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities (three times), and is a winner of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology's Stanton Prize. He authored Lack of Character: Personality and Moral Behavior (Cambridge, 2002) and, with his colleagues in the Moral Psychology Research Group, edited The Moral Psychology Handbook (Oxford, 2010). Doris' teaching has been recognized with an Outstanding Mentor Award from Washington University's Graduate Student Senate.
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