Gender and the senses of agency
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This paper details the ways that gender structures our senses of agency on an enactive framework. While it is common to discuss how gender influences higher, narrative levels of cognition, as with the formulation of goals and in considerations about our identities, it is less clear how gender structures our more immediate, embodied processes, such as the minimal sense of agency. While enactivists often acknowledge that gender and other aspects of our socio-cultural situatedness shape our cognitive processes, there is little work on how this shaping takes place. In order to provide such an account, I will first look at the minimal and narrative senses of agency (Gallagher in New Ideas in Psychology, 30(1), 15–31, 2012), a distinction that draws from work on minimal and narrative selves (Zahavi 2010). Next I will explain the influence of the narrative sense of agency on the minimal sense of agency through work on intention-formation (Pacherie in Psyche, 13(1), 1–30, 2007). After a discussion of the role of gender in the narrative sense of agency, I’ll expand on work by Haslanger (2012) and Young (1990) to offer three ways in which gender influences the minimal sense of agency, showing the effect that gender has on how we perceive our possibilities for interaction in a phenomenologically immediate, pre-reflective manner.
KeywordsAgency Philosophy of action Enactivism Embodied cognition Feminist philosophy of mind
This research was made possible by UPA and IPTA awards from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Many thanks go to Patrick McGivern, Sarah Sorial, Shaun Gallagher, Jarrah Aubourg, Rebecca Harrison, Inês Hipólito, Thomas Mann, Russell Meyer, Anco Peeters, Tailer Ransom, John Reynolds, and Miguel Segundo Ortin for helpful draft comments at various stages, as well as audiences at the Australasian Association of Philosophy meeting in Adelaide, 2017, and at the University of California Riverside Graduate Conference, 2017, for insightful discussions. The author also thanks two anonymous reviewers for their encouraging comments.
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