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Sofia Bonicalzi

Assistant Professor
Roma Tre University
Agency and responsibility. A novel approach between philosophy and cognitive science
01 September 2020 -
31 January 2021

Sofia Bonicalzi is an Assistant Professor in Moral Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Art, Roma Tre University. She is also an Associate Researcher at the Cognition, Value and Behavior research group at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Pavia and has been a visiting Ph.D. candidate at the Sage School of Philosophy, at Cornell University. She works on moral philosophy, philosophy of mind/action, philosophy of cognitive neuroscience, and moral psychology from an interdisciplinary perspective. Her current research focuses on the philosophy and neuroscience of volition, action and responsibility. Previously, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL (Action and Body Group), at the School of Advanced Study (University of London), where she was also a team member of The Human Mind Project, and at the Chair of Philosophy of Mind, Faculty of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science and the Study of Religion, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich.

Her fellowship benefits from the support of the RFIEA+ LABEX, with a national funding (Grant ANR-11-LABX-0027-01). 

Research Interests

Philosophy and Cognitive science of intention, action, responsibility.

Agency and responsibility. A novel approach between philosophy and cognitive science

Intentional agency and its relationship with individual responsibility is among the most thriving areas of interaction between moral psychology and the philosophy and cognitive science of action. However, providing a coherent, unified account of how intentional agency unfolds in the natural world has proven difficult. In particular, a substantial controversial point concerns the contribution of conscious mental states to action production. Empirical findings in the cognitive science of volitional processes have been often regarded as straightforwardly supporting scepticism about full-fledged intentional behaviour. Correspondingly, the scope and meaning of the notion of responsibility, and the reliability of the subjective experience of agency have been challenged. By contrast, this project takes a novel, constructive, stance regarding how insights from philosophy and cognitive science jointly foster understanding of intentional agency. In taking up this challenge, the project examines the prospects for theory of agency in the light of novel empirical research on the psychology and cognitive science of volition and action control. In particular, the project aims to address the following research questions: (1) How can we offer a coherent, scientifically plausible, account of our ability to act intentionally, exhibiting control over our behaviour? (2) Does intentional and responsible agency require an active causal role of conscious mental states, and a transparent access to the motivational sources of behaviour? (3) To what extent do the philosophy and science of agency respectively help to settle the dispute about borderline cases of intentional or voluntary actions?


Seminar series organized by Sofia Bonicalzi, Research Fellow at the Paris IAS
27 Nov 2020 17:30 -
27 Nov 2020 19:00,
Ethics & Technology
Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region