Agency of belief and intention

Synthese 194 (8):2763-2784 (2017)
A. K. Flowerree
Texas Tech University
In this paper, I argue for a conditional parity thesis: if we are agents with respect to our intentions, we are agents with respect to our beliefs. In the final section, I motivate a categorical version of the parity thesis: we are agents with respect to belief and intention. My aim in this paper is to show that there is no unique challenge facing epistemic agency that is not also facing agency with respect to intention. My thesis is ambitious on two fronts. First, the parity thesis is a substantive thesis about the nature of belief and intention. I argue that there is a structural parity of belief and intention; the status of whether they are agential stands and falls together. Second, the parity thesis illuminates the nature of agency. It constrains what counts as a satisfactory account of agency: either we must accept agency of both belief and intention, or we must reject both. In the final section, I argue that we have prima facie reason to accept agency of belief and intention. Finally, I diagnose why there has been such resistance to epistemic agency. Epistemic agency is problematic, but its problems are problems with agency, not problems with epistemic agency.
Keywords Epistemic agency  Doxastic agency  Agency  Basing relation  Doxastic justification
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Reprint years 2017
DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1138-5
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