Confronting Many-Many Problems: Attention and Agentive Control

Noûs 45 (1):50-76 (2011)
I argue that when perception plays a guiding role in intentional bodily action, it is a necessary part of that action. The argument begins with a challenge that necessarily arises for embodied agents, what I call the Many-Many Problem. The Problem is named after its most common case where agents face too many perceptual inputs and too many possible behavioral outputs. Action requires a solution to the Many-Many Problem by selection of a specific linkage between input and output. In bodily action the agent perceptually selects, and in this way perceptually attends to, relevant information so as to guide the execution of specific movements. Since perceptual attention is a necessary part of solving the Many-Many Problem, it is a necessary part of bodily action. Indeed, the process of implementing a solution to the Many-Many Problem, as constrained by the agent's motivational state, just is the agent's performing an intentional bodily action in the relevant way.
Keywords Philosophy of Action  Attention  Agency  Control  Causal Theory of Action
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DOI 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00804.x
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References found in this work BETA
Michael Bratman (1987/1999). Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason. Center for the Study of Language and Information.

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Citations of this work BETA
Wayne Wu (2015). Experts and Deviants: The Story of Agentive Control. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):n/a-n/a.
Joshua Shepherd (2014). The Contours of Control. Philosophical Studies 170 (3):395-411.
Wayne Wu (2011). What is Conscious Attention? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1):93-120.

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