Agency as a Two-Way Power: A Defence

The Monist 103 (3):342-355 (2020)
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This paper presents a dilemma which it has been alleged by Kim Frost must be faced by any defender of the notion of a two-way power and offers a solution to the dilemma which is distinct from Frost’s own. The dilemma is as follows: assuming that powers are to be individuated by what they are powers to do or undergo, then either there is a unified description of the manifestation-type which individuates the power, or there is not. If there is, then two-way powers are revealed really to be one-way powers, after all. If there is not, then it is difficult to explain why the two-way power does not simply dissolve into a mere combination of two one-way powers. The paper offers an account of what a two-way power is that is distinct from the one Frost takes for granted, and argues that this different conception is the key to avoiding the dilemma. It is also argued that this alternative conception has several further advantages over its rival and also that it has no less of a claim than Frost’s notion to be prefigured in Aristotle’s original discussion.

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Author's Profile

Helen Steward
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Abilities.John Maier - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Agentive Duality reconsidered.Annina Loets & Julia Zakkou - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3771-3789.
Action.George Wilson - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Frankfurt cases, alternative possibilities and agency as a two-way power.Helen Steward - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (9):1167-1184.
Agentially controlled action: causal, not counterfactual.Malte Hendrickx - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (10-11):3121-3139.

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References found in this work

A Metaphysics for Freedom.Helen Steward - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Agency and Two‐Way Powers.Maria Alvarez - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (1pt1):101-121.
Essays on the Active Powers of the Human Mind.Thomas Reid - 1969 - Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 38 (2):424-424.
Essays on the active powers of the human mind.Thomas Reid - 2007 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Late modern philosophy: essential readings with commentary. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 297-368.
Personal Agency.E. J. Lowe - 2003 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 53:211-227.

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