Agency

Edited by Michael Brent (University of Denver)
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  1. Bio-agency: Können Organismen handeln?Anne Sophie Meincke - 2014 - In Meincke & Daniel Wehinger (eds.), Vermögen und Handlung. Der dispositionale Realismus und unser Selbstverständnis als Handelnde. Münster, Germany: pp. 191-224.
  2. Action Explanation and its Presuppositions.Lilian O’Brien - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):123-146.
    In debates about rationalizing action explanation causalists assume that the psychological states that explain an intentional action have both causal and rational features. I scrutinize the presuppositions of those who seek and offer rationalizing action explanations. This scrutiny shows, I argue, that where rational features play an explanatory role in these contexts, causal features play only a presuppositional role. But causal features would have to play an explanatory role if rationalizing action explanation were a species of causal explanation. Consequently, we (...)
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  3. Realizing Onself by Realizing What One Really Wants to Do.Yudai Suzuki - 2018 - In Andrea Altobrando, Takuya Niikawa & Richard Stone (eds.), The Realizations of the Self. Springer. pp. 185-197.
    I will explore the concept of self-realization by means of realizing what one really wants to do, i.e., by realizing the desires one is committed to. I briefly review views of three philosophers, Frankfurt, Watson, and Bratman, and contrast my view with theirs. Unlike Frankfurt and Bratman, I argue that higher order attitudes toward desires are not necessary for the commitment. I agree with Watson that value judgments on desires are necessary, but they are not sufficient for the commitment. My (...)
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  4. Agent-Causal Libertarianism, Statistical Neural Laws and Wild Coincidences.Jason D. Runyan - 2017 - Synthese 195 (10):4563-4580.
    Agent-causal libertarians maintain we are irreducible agents who, by acting, settle matters that aren’t already settled. This implies that the neural matters underlying the exercise of our agency don’t conform to deterministic laws, but it does not appear to exclude the possibility that they conform to statistical laws. However, Pereboom (Noûs 29:21–45, 1995; Living without free will, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001; in: Nadelhoffer (ed) The future of punishment, Oxford University Press, New York, 2013) has argued that, if these neural (...)
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  5. Action, Animacy, and Substance Causation.Janice Chik Breidenbach - 2017 - In William M. R. Simpson, Robert Charles Koons & Nicholas Teh (eds.), Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science. Routledge. pp. 235-260.
  6. Was There a Scientific ’68? Its Repercussion on Action Research and Mixing Methods.José Andrés-Gallego - 2018 - Arbor 194 (787):436: 1-10.
    The author asks whether there was a “scientific ‘68”, and focuses on aspects of two specific methodological proposals defined in the 1940s and 50s by the terms “action research” and “mixing methods”, applied particularly to social sciences. In the first, the climate surrounding the events of 1968 contributed to heightening the participative element to be found –by definition– in “action research”; that is: the importance of making the research subjects themselves participants in the design, execution and application of the study (...)
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  7. Agency, Qualia and Life: Connecting Mind and Body Biologically.David Longinotti - 2018 - In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017. Cham: Springer. pp. 43-56.
    Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which does (...)
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  8. Ramsey and Joyce on Deliberation and Prediction.Yang Liu & Huw Price - forthcoming - Synthese:1-22.
    Can an agent deliberating about an action A hold a meaningful credence that she will do A? 'No', say some authors, for 'Deliberation Crowds Out Prediction' (DCOP). Others disagree, but we argue here that such disagreements are often terminological. We explain why DCOP holds in a Ramseyian operationalist model of credence, but show that it is trivial to extend this model so that DCOP fails. We then discuss a model due to Joyce, and show that Joyce's rejection of DCOP rests (...)
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  9. Blame, Forgiveness, and Honor in Aristotle and Beyond.Carissa Phillips-Garrett - 2017 - Dissertation, Rice University
    Many contemporary discussions of forgiveness assume forgiveness is fundamentally admirable. Examining Aristotle’s account, however, demonstrates that there is a tension between desert and forgiveness that is often overlooked in contemporary discussions. Through examining the neglected concept of sungnōmē, which forestalls blame, I conclude that Aristotelian blame is justified only on grounds of fairness. This conclusion is evidence that Aristotelian blame is not merely an instrumental or descriptive tool, but rather a way of holding agents morally accountable. Through examining the emphasis (...)
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  10. "The Subversive Edge": Paris Is Burning, Social Critique, and the Limits of Subjective Agency.Phillip Brian Harper - 1994 - Diacritics 24 (2/3):90.
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  11. Agency and Embodiment: Groups, Human–Machine Interactions, and Virtual Realities.Johannes Himmelreich - 2016 - Ratio:197-213.
    This paper develops a taxonomy of kinds of actions that can be seen in group agency, human–machine interactions, and virtual realities. These kinds of actions are special in that they are not embodied in the ordinary sense. I begin by analysing the notion of embodiment into three separate assumptions that together comprise what I call the Embodiment View. Although this view may find support in paradigmatic cases of agency, I suggest that each of its assumptions can be relaxed. With each (...)
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  12. Nietzsche’s Account of Self-Conscious Agency.Paul Katsafanas - 2018 - Philosophical Explorations 21 (1):122-137.
    This essay is an overview of Nietzsche’s philosophy of action. I discuss the central features of Nietzsche’s account and the ways in which it departs from standard accounts. Section 1 discusses Nietzsche’s view of the opacity of human action. I focus on the way in which the agent’s experience of the world is shaped by unnoticed and unconscious factors. Section 2 asks what role self-consciousness has in the production of action. Section 3 turns to the way in which Nietzsche understands (...)
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  13. Moral Rationalism and the Normativity of Constitutive Principles.Zachary Bachman - 2018 - Philosophia 46 (1):1-19.
    Recently, Christine Bratu and Mortiz Dittmeyer have argued that Christine Korsgaard’s constitutive project fails to establish the normativity of practical principles because it fails to show why a principle’s being constitutive of a practice shows that one ought to conform to that principle. They argue that in many cases a principle’s being constitutive of a practice has no bearing on whether one ought to conform to it. In this paper I argue that Bratu and Dittmeyer’s argument fails in three important (...)
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  14. Evaluative Beliefs First.Ben Bramble - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 8.
    Many philosophers think that it is only because we happen to want or care about things that we think some things of value. We start off caring about things, and then project these desires onto the external world. In this chapter, I make a preliminary case for the opposite view, that it is our evaluative thinking that is prior or comes first. On this view, it is only because we think some things of value that we care about or want (...)
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  15. Can Affordances Explain Behavior?Alexandros Tillas, Gottfried Vosgerau, Tim Seuchter & Silvano Zipoli Caiani - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):295-315.
    In this paper we secure the explanatory value of affordances by treating them as relational properties and as inherently linked to unintentional movements and possible intentional actions. We distinguish between Basic affordances, which are related to unintentional movements, and Complex affordances, which are subjective and executively controlled by individuals. The linkage between affordances and motor intentions allows for accounting for the infinite number of affordances that any given object potentially has. Appealing to objective systematic contingencies that provide the actor with (...)
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  16. Agency and Practical Abilities.Will Small - 2017 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 80:235-264.
    Though everyday life accords a great deal of significance to practical abilities—such as the ability to walk, to speak French, to play the piano—philosophers of action pay surprisingly little attention to them. By contrast, abilities are discussed in various other philosophical projects. From these discussions, a partial theory of abilities emerges. If the partial theory—which is at best adequate only to a few examples of practical abilities—were correct, then philosophers of action would be right to ignore practical abilities, because they (...)
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  17. What is It Like to Be a Group Agent?Christian List - 2016 - Noûs:295-319.
    The existence of group agents is relatively widely accepted. Examples are corporations, courts, NGOs, and even entire states. But should we also accept that there is such a thing as group consciousness? I give an overview of some of the key issues in this debate and sketch a tentative argument for the view that group agents lack phenomenal consciousness. In developing my argument, I draw on integrated information theory, a much-discussed theory of consciousness. I conclude by pointing out an implication (...)
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  18. Clinical Guidelines as Plans: An Ontological Theory.Anand Kumar, Barry Smith, Domenica Pisanelli, Aldo Gangemi & Mario Stefanelli - 2006 - Methods of Information in Medicine 45 (2):204-210.
    Clinical guidelines are special types of plans realized by collective agents. We provide an ontological theory of such plans that is designed to support the construction of a framework in which guideline-based information systems can be employed in the management of workflow in health care organizations. The framework we propose allows us to represent in formal terms how clinical guidelines are realized through the actions of are realized through the actions of individuals organized into teams. We provide various levels of (...)
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  19. Social Conceptions of Moral Agency in Hegel and Sellars.David Baumeister - 2017 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 25 (2):249-265.
    This essay contributes to our understanding of the relation between the philosophies of Hegel and Sellars. While most treatments of this relation have focused on metaphysics or epistemology, I focus on ethics, and in particular on the formulation of moral agency. I argue that Hegel and Sellars arrive at a similar metaphilosophical rejection of individual moral agency in favor of conceptions of moral agency as the outcome of social mediation. To demonstrate this, I trace how Hegel and Sellars offer parallel (...)
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  20. 2. Human Agents as Strong Evaluators.Arto Laitinen - 2008 - In Strong Evaluation Without Moral Sources: On Charles Taylor's Philosophical Anthropology and Ethics. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 61-105.
    In this chapter I discuss Taylor’s claim that strong evaluation is inevitable for human agency: without a framework of strong evaluations human agents would be in a crisis which Taylor calls, perhaps misleadingly, “an identity crisis”. With a broad brush I introduce some of the essential background in first three sections, and scrutinize the inevitability of strong evaluation more closely in the last three sections. I introduce first the distinction between the engaged perspective, which in Taylor’s view provides the correct (...)
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  21. Implied Consent and Sexual Assault: Intimate Relationships, Autonomy, and Voice by Michael Plaxton. [REVIEW]Lucinda Vandervort - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 28:697-702.
    This is a review and critical commentary on Michael Plaxton's 2015 book, Implied Consent and Sexual Assault, in which he proposes that the legal definition of sexual consent be amended to permit sexual partners to define the terms and conditions of sexual consent in accordance with private "normative commitments" between themselves. The proposed "reform" is intended to permit an individual to agree to be a party to sexual activity that would otherwise constitute sexual assault under Canadian law. For reasons explained (...)
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  22. Review of On Action, by Carl Ginet.Richard Malpas - 1993 - Philosophical Review 102 (1):134.
  23. Agency and Necessity.Lawrence H. Davis, Antony Flew & Godfrey Vesey - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (3):466.
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  24. Theory of Action.Charles Marks & Lawrence H. Davis - 1980 - Philosophical Review 89 (4):634.
  25. Choice: The Essential Element in Human Action.Alan Donagan - 2017 - Routledge.
    This book, first published in 1987, investigates what distinguishes the part of human behaviour that is action from the part that is not. The distinction was clearly drawn by Socrates, and developed by Aristotle and the medievals, but key elements of their work became obscured in modern philosophy, and were not fully recovered when, under Wittgenstein’s influence, the theory of action was revived in analytical philosophy. This study aims to recover those elements, and to analyse them in terms of a (...)
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  26. Existentialism.John-Michael Kuczynski - 2016 - Amazon Digital Services LLC.
    Do we choose our values or do our values choose us?
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  27. Deliberators Must Be Imperfect.Derek Clayton Baker - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):321-347.
    This paper argues that, with certain provisos, predicting one's future actions is incompatible with rationally deliberating about whether to perform those actions. It follows that fully rational omniscient agents are impossible, since an omniscient being could never rationally deliberate about what to do. Consequently, theories that explain practical reasons in terms of the choices of a perfectly rational omniscient agent must fail. The paper considers several ways of defending the possibility of an omniscient agent, and concludes that while some of (...)
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  28. VII—Concepts of Action and Concepts of Approval.Karl Britton - 1973 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73 (1):105-118.
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  29. Agency, Empowerment and Culture.Patti Tamara Lenard - 2009 - Contemporary Political Theory 8 (4):455-465.
  30. Agency, Nature and Emergent Properties: An Interview with Jane Bennett.Gulshan Khan - 2009 - Contemporary Political Theory 8 (1):90-105.
  31. Introduction.Roman Altshuler & Michael J. Sigrist - 2016 - In Roman Altshuler & Michael J. Sigrist (eds.), Time and the Philosophy of Action. Routledge. pp. 1-18.
    We do things in time. Philosophy of action can capture this phenomenon in at least two ways. On one hand, it might focus on the way that temporal preferences and long-term temporal horizons affect the rationality of decisions in the present (see, e.g., Parfit 1984; Rawls 1971). Such work may focus on the way we discount the distant future, for example, or prioritize the future over the past. Approaches of this kind treat time as, in a sense, something external to (...)
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  32. Agency as Difference-Making: Causal Foundations of Moral Responsibility.Johannes Himmelreich - 2015 - Dissertation, London School of Economics and Political Science
    We are responsible for some things but not for others. In this thesis, I investigate what it takes for an entity to be responsible for something. This question has two components: agents and actions. I argue for a permissive view about agents. Entities such as groups or artificially intelligent systems may be agents in the sense required for responsibility. With respect to actions, I argue for a causal view. The relation in virtue of which agents are responsible for actions is (...)
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  33. Self-Determination, Self-Transformation, and the Case of Jean Valjean: A Problem for Velleman.Kevin Timpe - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (10):2591-2598.
    According to reductionists about agency, an agent’s bringing something about is reducible to states and events involving the agent bringing something about. Many have worried that reductionism cannot accommodate robust forms of agency, such as self-determination. One common reductionist answer to this worry contends that self-determining agents are identified with certain states and events, and so these states and events causing a decision counts as the agent’s self-determining the decision. In this paper I discuss J. David Velleman’s identification reductionist theory, (...)
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  34. Naturalism, Minimalism, and the Scope of Nietzsche's Philosophical Psychology.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Kristin Gjesdal (ed.), Debates in Nineteenth-Century European Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 326-338.
    Bernard Williams’ “Nietzsche’s Minimalist Moral Psychology”, replete with provocative and insightful claims, has been extremely influential in Nietzsche scholarship. In the two decades since its publication, much of the most interesting and philosophically sophisticated work on Nietzsche has focused on exactly the topics that Williams addresses: Nietzsche’s moral psychology, his account of action, his naturalistic commitments, and the way in which these topics interact with his critique of traditional morality. While Williams’ pronouncements on these topics are brief and at times (...)
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  35. Handlung, Urheberschaft und Willensfreiheit.Geert Keil - 2013 - In Achim Stephan & Sven Walter (eds.), Handbuch Kognitionswissenschaft. Metzler. pp. 304-308.
    Handbook article that describes the interrelations between the notions of agency, authorship, and free will.
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  36. Comments on Alfred Mele, Motivation and Agency – Discussion.Carl Ginet - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 123 (3):261-272.
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  37. The Concept of “Free Agency” in Monotheistic Religions: Implications for Global Business.Abbas J. Ali, Robert C. Camp & Manton Gibbs - 2005 - Journal of Business Ethics 60 (1):103-112.
    The current debate on “free agency” seems to highlight the romantic aspects of free agent and considers it a genuine response to changing economic conditions (e.g., high-unemployment rate, importance of knowledge in the labor market, the eclipse of organizational loyalty, and self pride). Little attention, if any, has been given to the religious root of the free agency concept and its persistent existence across history. In this paper, the current discourse on free agency and the conditions that have led to (...)
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  38. Proofs as Spatio-Temporal Processes.Petros Stefaneas & Ioannis M. Vandoulakis - 2014 - Philosophia Scientae 18:111-125.
    The concept of proof can be studied from many different perspectives. Many types of proofs have been developed throughout history such as apodictic, dialectical, formal, constructive and non-constructive proofs, proofs by visualisation, assumption-based proofs, computer-generated proofs, etc. In this paper, we develop Goguen’s general concept of proof-events and the methodology of algebraic semiotics, in order to define the concept of mathematical style, which characterizes the proofs produced by different cultures, schools or scholars. In our view, style can be defined as (...)
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  39. Explaining Actions and Explaining Bodily Movements.Maria Alvares - 2013 - In G. D’Oro, A. Laitinen & C. Sandis (eds.), Reasons and Causes. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 141-159.
  40. Character, Will, and Agency.Roman Altshuler - 2016 - In Jonathan Webber & Alberto Masala (eds.), From Personality to Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character. Oxford University Press. pp. 62-80.
    Character and the will are rarely discussed together. At most, philosophers working on the one mention the other in an eliminativist vein—if character is represented as something chosen, for example, it can be chalked up to the work of the will; if the will consists merely of a certain arrangement of mental states, it can be seen as little more than a manifestation of character. This mutual neglect appears perfectly justified. If both character and will are determinants of action, to (...)
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  41. Do We Always Act on Maxims?Sven Nyholm - 2017 - Kantian Review 22 (2):233-255.
    It is commonly thought that on Kant’s view of action, ‘everyone always acts on maxims.’ Call this the ‘descriptive reading.’ This reading faces two important problems: first, the idea that people always act on maxims offends against common sense: it clashes with our ordinary ideas about human agency. Second, there are various passages in which Kant says that it is ‘rare’ and ‘admirable’ to firmly adhere to a set of basic principles that we adopt for ourselves. This article offers an (...)
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  42. Changing Things: Aristotle on Action and the Capacity for Action in Metaphysics IX, 5.R. King - unknown
  43. Action.Rowland Stout - 2005 - Routledge.
    The traditional focus of debate in philosophy of action has been the causal theory of action and metaphysical questions about the nature of actions as events. In this lucid and lively introduction to philosophy of action, Rowland Stout shows how these issues are subsidiary to more central ones that concern the freedom of the will, practical rationality and moral psychology. When seen in these terms, agency becomes one of the most exciting areas in philosophy and one of the most useful (...)
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  44. A Companion to the Philosophy of Action.C. O'Connor, Sandis, T. (ed.) - 2010 - Blackwell.
    _A Companion to the Philosophy of Action_ offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action. The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, and rational agency in evolutionary perspective Individual chapters also cover prominent historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur Can be approached (...)
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  45. Melancholic Freedom: Agency and the Spirit of Politics.David Kyuman Kim - 2008 - Oup Usa.
    Why does agency-the capacity to make choices and to act in the world-matter to us? Why is it meaningful that our intentions have effects in the world, that they reflect our sense of identity, that they embody what we value? David Kyuman Kim addresses these crucial questions by uncovering the political, moral, philosophical, and religious dimensions of human agency. Through a critical engagement with the work of theorists such as Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and Stanley Cavell, Kim argues that late (...)
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  46. Natural Agency: An Essay on the Causal Theory of Action.John Bishop - 1990 - Cambridge University Press.
    From a moral point of view we think of ourselves as capable of responsible actions. From a scientific point of view we think of ourselves as animals whose behaviour, however highly evolved, conforms to natural scientific laws. Natural Agency argues that these different perspectives can be reconciled, despite the scepticism of many philosophers who have argued that 'free will' is impossible under 'scientific determinism'. This scepticism is best overcome, according to the author, by defending a causal theory of action, that (...)
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  47. Action, Activity, Agent.Sebastián Briceño - 2015 - In Patricia Hanna (ed.), An Anthology of Philosophical Studies: Volume 9. Athens, Greece: Athens Institute for Education and Research. pp. 15–27.
    How is it that someone is an agent, an active being? According to a common and dominant opinion, it is in virtue of performing actions. Within this dominant trend, some claim that actions are acts of will while others claim that actions are identical with certain basic bodily movements. First I make an assessment of these traditional accounts of action and argue that neither of them can make sense of how is it that someone is an agent. Then I offer (...)
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  48. Le Retour au Sujet : Subjects, Agents, and Rationality.Paisley Nathan Livingston - unknown
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  49. The Will and Human Action: From Antiquity to the Present Day.Thomas Pink & M. W. F. Stone (eds.) - 2004 - Routledge.
    What is the will? And what is its relation to human action? Throughout history, philosophers have been fascinated by the idea of 'the will': the source of the drive that motivates human beings to act. However, there has never been a clear consensus as to what the will is and how it relates to human action. Some philosophers have taken the will to be based firmly in reason and rational choice, and some have seen it as purely self-determined. Others have (...)
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  50. Making Something Happen. Where Causation and Agency Meet.Geert Keil - 2007 - In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis. pp. 19-35.
    1. Introduction: a look back at the reasons vs. causes debate. 2. The interventionist account of causation. 3. Four objections to interventionism. 4. The counterfactual analysis of event causation. 5. The role of free agency. 6. Causality in the human sciences. -- The reasons vs. causes debate reached its peak about 40 years ago. Hempel and Dray had debated the nature of historical explanation and the broader issue of whether explanations that cite an agent’s reasons are causal or not. Melden, (...)
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