Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2011-2028 (2019)

Andrew Sims
Catholic University of Louvain
In this paper I give a novel argument for this view that the AGENT concept has an externalist semantics. The argument argues the conclusion from two premises: first, that our first relationships to agents is through a subpersonal mechanism which requires for its function an agential proto-concept which refers directly; and second, that there is a continuity of reference between this proto-concept and the mature concept AGENT. I argue the first on the basis of results in the developmental psychology of social cognition. I argue the second on the basis of a process of elimination, by considering three possibilities for the relationship between the two concepts. On the basis of these two premises the conclusion is drawn that AGENT is a concept that refers directly. That has the following consequences for the philosophy of action: first, that “action” is not an appropriate term for reductive analysis, as the causal theory of action assumes; and second, that we should be looking to the appropriate empirical disciplines for an elucidation of the concept.
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-018-1108-5
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References found in this work BETA

The Meaning of 'Meaning'.Hillary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Mental Files.François Recanati - 2012 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Agency.Markus E. Schlosser - 2015 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Free Actions as a Natural Kind.Oisín Deery - 2021 - Synthese 198 (1):823-843.

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