In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 6. Oxford University Press. pp. 219 (2011)

Paul Katsafanas
Boston University
Lately, a number of philosophers have argued that agents can be more and less active in the production of their own actions. Some actions—principally reflective, deliberative ones—are said to involve agential activity; other actions—principally unreflective, non-deliberative ones—are said to be brought about in a more passive fashion. In this essay, I critique these claims. I show that philosophers employing the notion of agential activity have relied on one or more of the following claims, which have not been clearly distinguished in the literature: (1) that choice causes action, (2) that motives do not determine choice, and (3) that reflective deliberation suspends the effects of motives. These claims are closely related, and are often conflated in the literature. However, I argue that they are importantly distinct. I explicate and assess each of these claims, arguing that while there are precisifications of the first and second claims that render them true, there are philosophical arguments and results from empirical psychology indicating that the third claim is false. Moreover, I argue that the third claim is the crucial one; its truth is necessary in order to support the idea that reflective agency is paradigmatically active. As a result, the traditional accounts of agential activity must be rejected. I close by suggesting a new model of agential activity.
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Citations of this work BETA

Why Care About Being an Agent?Caroline T. Arruda - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):488-504.
Nietzsche and Kant on the Will: Two Models of Reflective Agency.Paul Katsafanas - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (1):185-216.
Autonomy, Character, and Self-Understanding.Paul Katsafanas - 2016 - In Iskra Fileva (ed.), Questions of Character. Oxford University Press.

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