Personal Identity and Agency

Dr Georg Gasser is a trained philosopher and theologian working at the Institute for Christian Philosophy, Innsbruck University. His areas of specialization are metaphysics, personal ontology, action theory and philosophical theology. We decided to invite this young and promising scholar because his broad research interests fit perfectly with ours and because of the chances to establish a long-term collaboration with him.

Dr Gasser will mainly engage with the interdisciplinary research group based at Universidad Austral. The group is formed by scientists, philosophers and theologians. Over the past two years the group has focused mainly on philosophical questions raised by life- and cognitive sciences, e.g. the nature of consciousness and naturalism, determinism and free agency or cognitive impairment and personhood.

The main activities of the visit are a ten-hour course and a two-day-workshop. Both activities are addressed to an interested scholarly audience from Austral and from other institutions in Argentina. The activities will focus on the importance of agency for personal identity by explicitly taking into consideration empirical research too. Sample questions to be tackled are: (i) Is our consciousness action oriented? (ii) Is agency a pre-condition for our sense of personal identity? (ii) How does work on intention formation relate to the personal identity debate? (iv) What do empirical accounts of second-person relatedness tell us about personal identity?  We expect to produce at least three manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals either in Spanish or in English resulting from Dr Gasser’s visit.

We intend to take occasion of his stay for reaching out to a broader audience too. We will record and upload a longer interview with him about the question how our pre-scientific concept of personhood is challenged by neuroscientific research and naturalistic interpretations thereof. Finally, a half day workshop with students is planned.

Host University
Universidad Austral, Argentina

Host Scholar
Juan Francisco Franck