Do we reflect while performing skillful actions? Automaticity, control, and the perils of distraction

Philosophical Psychology 30 (7):896-924 (2017)

Authors
Juan Pablo Bermúdez
Universidad Externado De Colombia
Abstract
From our everyday commuting to the gold medalist’s world-class performance, skillful actions are characterized by fine-grained, online agentive control. What is the proper explanation of such control? There are two traditional candidates: intellectualism explains skillful agentive control by reference to the agent’s propositional mental states; anti-intellectualism holds that propositional mental states or reflective processes are unnecessary since skillful action is fully accounted for by automatic coping processes. I examine the evidence for three psychological phenomena recently held to support anti-intellectualism and argue that it supports neither traditional candidate, but an intermediate attention-control account, according to which the top-down, intention-directed control of attention is a necessary component of skillful action. Only this account recognizes both the role of automatic control in skilled action and the need for higher-order cognition to thread automatic processes together into a unified, skillful performance. This applies to bodily skillful action in general, from the world-class performance of experts to mundane, habitual action. The attention-control account stresses that, for intentions to play their role as top-down modulators of attention, agents must sustain the intention’s activation; hence, the need for reflecting throughout performance.
Keywords skill  expertise  habit  attention  automaticity  utilization behavior  dual process  intention
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DOI 10.1080/09515089.2017.1325457
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References found in this work BETA

Intelligent Virtue.Julia Annas - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
Dual-Process Theories of Higher Cognition Advancing the Debate.Jonathan Evans & Keith E. Stanovich - 2013 - Perspectives on Psychological Science 8 (3):223-241.
Knowing How.Jason Stanley & Timothy Williamson - 2001 - Journal of Philosophy 98 (8):411-444.

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Citations of this work BETA

Remembering as a Mental Action.Santiago Arango-Munoz & Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2018 - In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. 75-96.

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