Debates about individualism and holism, reductionism and phenomenology, and naturalism and humanism all turn on how we answer the basic questions about the nature of human agency. This book argues that the traditional emphasis on the accuracy of a given theory of human agency has systematically obscured the normative dimension in these theories and that recognizing this normative dimension allows us to see that a pragmatic approach to theories of agency, either in social science or moral philosophy, is more appropriate. As well as offering a vigorous presentation of the pragmatic-therapeutic account of agency Wisnewski also engages critically with three rival accounts from Nietzsche, Foucault and Rorty.
’How human agency should be understood is a central question in the social sciences and this book offers itself as a useful way into the discussion of how to approach the debate. … I salute this book for outlining a series of arguments in the philosophy of agency as seen in the philosophy of the social sciences, and thereby provoking further reflection on the topic. The wide range of authors touched on is meritorious (and useful)…’ Metapsychology Online Reviews
Contents: Preface; Assertions, clarifications and recommendations: outline of an approach to theories of human agency; The nature of human agency: the competing recommendations of humanism and naturalism; Constitutive rules and critical theory; Returning to the argument: atomism, holism and the social conditions of agency; Theory and the trouble with agency; Toward a pragmatic-therapeutic approach to human agency; Bibliography; Index.