An Inference to the Sense of Agency?
Document Type:ASSC Conference Item
Topics:Self and Mental State Attribution
Keywords:self consciousnesssense of bodily agency; Wegner; inference
Deposited by:Glenn Carruthers
Date of Issue:2006
Event Location:Los Vegas, USA
Event Title:11th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness
Event Type:ASSC Conference
Number of Pages:1
Abstract:A vital component of self consciousness is the sense of agency over one’s bodily actions. Despite a veritable explosion of research on this topic recently there is no consensus as to the nature of this sense or how it arises. I critically evaluate the claim of Wegner and colleagues that this sense arises from an inference to mental states as the cause of one’s bodily actions. I argue that this is inconsistent with data from developmental psychology which shows that children can identify the agent behind an action before they can say anything about the relationship between their mental states and their actions. It is also inconsistent with further data that suggests that children with autism have a defict in their understanding of the relationship between their thoughts and actions, but are perfectly capable of identifying the agent behind actions.