The agent-relative/agent-neutral distinction is one of the most important in contemporary moral theory. Yet, providing an adequate formal account of it has proven difficult. In this article I defend a new formal account of the distinction, one that avoids various problems faced by other accounts. My account is based on an influential account of the distinction developed by McNaughton and Rawling. I argue that their approach is on the right track but that it succumbs to two serious objections. (...) I then show how to formulate a new account that follows the key insights of McNaughton and Rawling’s approach yet avoids the two objections. (shrink)
In a recent paper I argued that agent causation theorists should be compatibilists. In this paper, I argue that compatibilists should be agent causation theorists. I consider six of the main problems facing compatibilism: (i) the powerful intuition that one can't be responsible for actions that were somehow determined before one was born; (ii) Peter van Inwagen's modal argument, involving the inference rule (β); (iii) the objection to compatibilism that is based on claiming that the ability to do (...) otherwise is a necessary condition for freedom; (iv) "manipulation arguments," involving cases in which an agent is manipulated by some powerful being into doing something that he or she would not normally do, but in such a way that the compatibilist's favorite conditions for a free action are satisfied; (v) the problem of constitutive luck; and (vi) the claim that it is not fair to blame someone for an action if that person was determined by forces outside of his or her control to perform that action. And in the case of each of these problems, I argue that the compatibilist has a much more plausible response to that problem if she endorses the theory of agent causation than she does otherwise. (shrink)
Agent-regret seems to give rise to a philosophical puzzle. If we grant that we are not morally responsible for consequences outside our control, then agent-regret—which involves self-reproach and a desire to make amends for consequences outside one’s control—appears rationally indefensible. But despite its apparent indefensibility, agent-regret still seems like a reasonable response to bad moral luck. I argue here that the puzzle can be resolved if we appreciate the role that agent-regret plays in a larger social (...) practice that helps us deal with bad moral luck. That agent-regret is a component in a social practice limits the questions that we can reasonably ask about it. While we can ask whether an experience of agent-regret is rational given the norms of this practice, we cannot ask the question that motivates the puzzle of agent-regret, viz. whether agent-regret is rationally defensible according to the Standard View. (shrink)
My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most (...) theories of agent causation are. Rather, I argue that the notion of agent causation introduced here best explains how it is that you are making your body move during an action, thereby providing a satisfactory solution to the problem of action. (shrink)
Economies are complicated systems encompassing micro behaviors, interaction patterns, and global regularities. Whether partial or general in scope, studies of economic systems must consider how to handle difficult real-world aspects such as asymmetric information, imperfect competition, strategic interaction, collective learning, and the possibility of multiple equilibria. Recent advances in analytical and computational tools are permitting new approaches to the quantitative study of these aspects. One such approach is Agent-based Computational Economics (ACE), the computational study of economic processes modeled as (...) dynamic systems of interacting agents. This chapter explores the potential advantages and disadvantages of ACE for the study of economic systems. General points are concretely illustrated using an ACE model of a two-sector decentralized market economy. Six issues are highlighted: Constructive understanding of production, pricing, and trade processes; the essential primacy of survival; strategic rivalry and market power; behavioral uncertainty and learning; the role of conventions and organizations; and the complex interactions among structural attributes, institutional arrangements, and behavioral dispositions. (shrink)
This paper reviews two skeptical arguments and argues that a reliabilist framework is necessary to avoid them. The paper also argues that agent reliabilism, which makes the knower the seat of reliability, is the most plausible version of reliabilism.
Andrew Forcehimes and Luke Semrau argue that agent-relative consequentialism is implausible because in some circumstances it classes an act as impermissible yet holds that the outcome of all agents performing that impermissible act is preferable. I argue that their problem is closely related to Derek Parfit's problem of ‘direct collective self-defeat’ and show how Parfit's plausible solution to his problem can be adapted to solve their problem.
It is commonly held that all deontological moral theories are agent-relative in the sense that they give each agent a special concern that she does not perform acts of a certain type rather than a general concern with the actions of all agents. Recently, Tom Dougherty has challenged this orthodoxy by arguing that agent-neutral deontology is possible. In this article I counter Dougherty's arguments and show that agent-neutral deontology is not possible.
This article discusses agent-based simulation (ABS) as a tool of sociological understanding. I argue that agent-based simulations can play an important role in the expansion of explanatory understanding in the social sciences. The argument is based on an inferential account of understanding (Ylikoski 2009, Ylikoski & Kuorikoski 2010), according to which computer simulations increase our explanatory understanding by expanding our ability to make what-if inferences about social processes and by making these inferences more reliable. The inferential account also (...) suggests a number of ways in which the use of simulation methodology might give rise to illusory understanding. The structure of the article is as .. (shrink)
According to the “Textbook View,” there is an extensional dispute between consequentialists and deontologists, in virtue of the fact that only the latter defend “agent-relative” principles—principles that require an agent to have a special concern with making sure that she does not perform certain types of action. I argue that, contra the Textbook View, there are agent-neutral versions of deontology. I also argue that there need be no extensional disagreement between the deontologist and consequentialist, as characterized by (...) the Textbook View. (shrink)
It is now generally understood that constraints play an important role in commonsense moral thinking and generally accepted that they cannot be accommodated by ordinary, traditional consequentialism. Some have seen this as the most conclusive evidence that consequentialism is hopelessly wrong,1 while others have seen it as the most conclusive evidence that moral common sense is hopelessly paradoxical.2 Fortunately, or so it is widely thought, in the last twenty-five years a new research program, that of Agent-Relative Teleology, has come (...) to the rescue on all sides. While consequentialism says that every agent ought always to do that action that will bring about the most good, according to Agent- Relative Teleology. (shrink)
I argue for an intentional conception of representation in science that requires bringing scientific agents and their intentions into the picture. So the formula is: Agents (1) intend; (2) to use model, M; (3) to represent a part of the world, W; (4) for some purpose, P. This conception legitimates using similarity as the basic relationship between models and the world. Moreover, since just about anything can be used to represent anything else, there can be no unified ontology of models. (...) This whole approach is further supported by a brief exposition of some recent work in cognitive, or usage-based, linguistics. Finally, with all the above as background, I criticize the recently much discussed idea that claims involving scientific models are really fictions. (shrink)
Freedom and moral responsibility have one foot in the practical realm of human affairs and the other in the esoteric realm of fundamental metaphysics—or so we believe. This has been denied, especially in the metaphysics-bashing era occupying the first two-thirds or so of the twentieth century, traces of which linger in the present day. But the reasons for this denial seem to us quite implausible. Certainly, the argument for the general bankruptcy of metaphysics has been soundly discredited. Arguments from Strawson (...) and others that our moral practices are too deeply embedded in human life to rest on anything as tenuous as a metaphysical doctrine far from the thoughts of ordinary people would seem to prove too much: we can easily imagine fantastic scenarios far from the thoughts of ordinary people—involving, say, alien manipulation or massive deception—that, if true, would clearly undermine claims to freedom and responsibility. For still other philosophers, the separation of the moral life from (some) metaphysical issues is prescriptive, not descriptive: it is a recommendation that we revise ordinary moral thought by severing its allegedly problematic links to metaphysics. (Some philosophers appear to hover undecided between such a prescriptive project and a Strawsonian descriptive claim.) We suspect that the prospects of retaining the binding force of ordinary moral thought, were such a reconceived moral practice widely embraced, are bleak. A transition to something closer to moral nihilism seems at least as likely. In any case, our interest here is in descriptive metaphysics, not revisionary. -/- To say as we do that freedom and moral responsibility have a partly metaphysical character is not to suggest that they can be had only if some highly specific version of a particular metaphysical framework is correct. Instead, we suggest in what follows, it is a broadly neo-Humean metaphysics that is not hospitable to freedom (for reasons distinctive to the metaphysics), while a broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is. But we also think (and it is the main aim of our paper to show) that different versions of the neo- Aristotelian metaphysics lead to rather different metaphysical accounts of free and responsible action. Specifically, we will argue that (1) the most satisfactory account of human freedom within the broadly neo-Aristotelian metaphysics is agent-causal, but that (2) two different versions of the general metaphysics will lead to important differences in the agent-causal account of freedom. Adjust the details of your general metaphysics, and the details of your account of freedom are transformed in significant ways. Action theory cannot properly be pursued in isolation from general metaphysics. (shrink)
In this paper, I offer two arguments in support of the proposition that there are sometimes agent-relative prerogatives to impose harm on nonliable persons. The first argument begins with a famous case where most people intuitively agree it is permissible to perform an act that results in an innocent person’s death, and where there is no liability-based or consequentialist justification for acting. I show that this case is relevantly analogous to a case involving the intentional imposition of lethal defensive (...) harm on a nonliable person. In the final part of the paper, I provide a second, independent, argument in support of the proposition that there are agent-relative permissions to foreseeably harm or kill nonliable people under certain conditions. (shrink)
Philosophers like to worry about luck. And well they should. Luck poses potential difficulties for knowledge, moral appraisal, and freedom. The primary target of this paper will be the last of these concerns . Recent arguments from luck have been levied against libertarian accounts of free will, including agent-causal ones. One general goal of this paper will be to demonstrate the truth of an often overlooked claim about responsibility-undermining luck. Part of this task will include illustrating what is genuinely (...) worrisome about luck in the context of free will. It will turn out that the problem is not fundamentally a problem of explanation. Another aim will be to argue that the truth of this claim about luck reveals a problem for event-causal libertarianism but has yet to reveal a problem for the agent-causal view. For the purposes of this paper, it will be assumed that luck does indeed undermine free action and moral responsibility. But it will be argued that agent-caused actions have not been shown to be "lucky.". (shrink)
Agent-based accounts of virtue ethics, such as the one provided by Michael Slote, base the rightness of action in the motive from which it proceeds. A frequent objection to agent-basing is that it does not allow us to draw the commonsense distinction between doing the right thing and doing it for the right reasons, that is, between act-evaluation and agent-appraisal. I defend agent-basing against this objection, but argue that a more fundamental problem for this account is (...) its apparent failure to provide adequate argue action guidance. I then show that this problem can be solved by supplementing an agent-based criterion of right action with a hypothetical-agent criterion of action guidance. (shrink)
In what follows, I will contend that the commonsense view of ourselves as fundamental causal agents - for which some have used the term “unmoved movers" but which I think might more accurately be expressed as “not wholly moved movers” - is theoretically understandable, internally consistent, and consistent with what we have thus far come to know about the nature and workings of the natural world. In the section that follows, I try to show how the concept of ‘agent’ (...) causation can be understood as a distinct species (from ‘event’ causation) of the primitive idea, which I’ll term “causal production”, underlying realist or non-Humean conceptions of event causation. In section III, I respond to a number of contemporary objections to the theory of agent causation. Sections IV-V are devoted to showing that the theory is compatible with ordinary reasons explanations of action, which then places me in a position to respond, in the final section, to the contention that we could never know, in principle, whether the agency theory actually describes a significant portion of human activity. (shrink)
To explain agent-identification behaviours, universalist theories in the biological and cognitive sciences have posited mental mechanisms thought to be universal to all humans, such as agent detection and face recognition mechanisms. These universalist theories have paid little attention to how particular sociocultural or historical contexts interact with the psychobiological processes of agent-identification. In contrast to universalist theories, contextualist theories appeal to particular historical and sociocultural contexts for explaining agent-identification. Contextualist theories tend to adopt idiographic methods aimed (...) at recording the heterogeneity of human behaviours across history, space, and cultures. Defenders of the universalist approach tend to criticise idiographic methods because such methods can lead to relativism or may lack generality. To overcome explanatory limitations of proposals that adopt either universalist or contextualist approaches in isolation, I propose a philosophical model that integrates contributions from both traditions: the psycho-historical theory of agent-identification. This theory investigates how the tracking processes that humans use for identifying agents interact with the unique socio-historical contexts that support agent-identification practices. In integrating hypotheses about the history of agents with psychological and epistemological principles regarding agent-identification, the theory can generate novel hypotheses regarding the distinction between recognition-based, heuristic-based, and explanation-based agent-identification. (shrink)
Bernard Williams claims that we should feel “agent-regret” for bad events we cause but for which we are not blameworthy. Such agent-regret involves no presupposition of fault, yet it also involves a need to personally make amends. This combination suggests that agent-regret, even if virtuous, is inherently irrational. In this paper, I defend agent-regret from attempts to explain it away as a confusion of other attitudes. I argue that the rationality of agent-regret is found in (...) how it makes sense as a response to conflicts that might arise between people through nothing more than bad luck. (shrink)
Agent-relative reasons are an important feature of any nonconsequentialist moral theory. Many authors think that they cannot be accommodated within a value-first theory that understands all value as agent-neutral. In this paper, I offer a novel explanation of agent-relative reasons that accommodates them fully within an agent-neutral value-first view. I argue that agent-relative reasons are to be understood in terms of second-order value responses: when an agent acts on an agent-relative reason, she responds (...) appropriately to the agent-neutral value of her own appropriate response to some agent-neutral value. This view helps reconcile important elements of deontology and consequentialism. (shrink)
: On a standard libertarian account of free will, an agent acts freely on some occasion only if there remains, until the action is performed, some chance that the agent will do something else instead right then. These views face the objection that, in such a case, it is a matter of luck whether the agent does one thing or another. This paper considers the problem of luck as it bears on agent‐causal libertarian accounts. A view (...) of this type is defended against a recent and challenging version of the argument from luck. (shrink)
In what follows, I shall presuppose the ecumenical core of the causal powers metaphysics. The argument of this paper concerns what may appear at first to be a wholly unrelated matter, the metaphysics of free will. However, an adequate account of freedom requires, in my judgment, a notion of a distinctive variety of causal power, one which tradition dubs ‘agent-causal power’. I will first develop this notion and clarify its relationship to other notions. I will then respond to a (...) number of objections either to the possibility of a power so explicated or to its sufficiency for grounding an adequate account of human freedom. (shrink)
In his recent book Slaves of the Passions , Mark Schroeder defends a Humean account of practical reasons ( hypotheticalism ). He argues that it is compatible with 'genuinely agent-neutral reasons'. These are reasons that any agent whatsoever has. According to Schroeder, they may well include moral reasons. Furthermore, he proposes a novel account of a reason's weight, which is supposed to vindicate the claim that agent-neutral reasons ( if they exist), would be weighty irrespective of anyone's (...) desires. If the argument is successful, it could help avoid an error-theory of moral language. I argue that it isn't, and that we should reject a Humean approach to reasons. (shrink)
I offer a brief review of, and critical response to, Neil Levy’s fascinating recent book Hard Luck, where he argues that no one is ever free or morally responsible not because of determinism or indeterminism, but because of luck. Two of Levy’s central arguments in defending his free will nihilism concern the nature and role of explanation in a theory of moral responsibility and the nature of akrasia. With respect to explanation, Levy argues that an adequate theory of moral responsibility (...) must be able provide contrastive explanations of why an agent performs one action rather than another, and that libertarians lack the resources to provide such explanations. With respect to akrasia, Levy argues that it is impossible to be directly morally responsible for akratic actions. In response I argue that any sense of contrastive explanation that can reasonably be thought to be a requirement on an adequate theory of moral responsibility is a sense that agent-causal libertarians can secure. I then argue that the agent-causal theory of free will offers an alternative and attractive understanding of motivation and self-control that makes it plausible to think that we can be morally responsible for akratic actions. (shrink)
This study provides a basic introduction to agent-based modeling (ABM) as a powerful blend of classical and constructive mathematics, with a primary focus on its applicability for social science research. The typical goals of ABM social science researchers are discussed along with the culture-dish nature of their computer experiments. The applicability of ABM for science more generally is also considered, with special attention to physics. Finally, two distinct types of ABM applications are summarized in order to illustrate concretely the (...) duality of ABM: Real-world systems can not only be simulated with verisimilitude using ABM; they can also be efficiently and robustly designed and constructed on the basis of ABM principles. (shrink)
Several philosophers claim that the phenomenology of one’s own agency conflicts with standard causal theories of action, couched in terms of causation by mental events or states. Others say that the phenomenology is prima facie incompatible with such a theory, even if in the end a reconciliation can be worked out. Here it is argued that the type of action theory in question is consistent with what can plausibly be said to be presented to us in our experience of our (...) agency. Several routes to a claim that there is nevertheless a prima facie incompatibility are examined, and all are found wanting. The phenomenology of agency, it is argued, is no threat to a standard causal theory of action. (shrink)
Now that complex Agent-Based Models and computer simulations spread over economics and social sciences - as in most sciences of complex systems -, epistemological puzzles (re)emerge. We introduce new epistemological concepts so as to show to what extent authors are right when they focus on some empirical, instrumental or conceptual significance of their model or simulation. By distinguishing between models and simulations, between types of models, between types of computer simulations and between types of empiricity obtained through a simulation, (...) section 2 gives the possibility to understand more precisely - and then to justify - the diversity of the epistemological positions presented in section 1. Our final claim is that careful attention to the multiplicity of the denotational powers of symbols at stake in complex models and computer simulations is necessary to determine, in each case, their proper epistemic status and credibility. (shrink)
Deontologists have long been upbraided for lacking an account of justified decision- making under risk and uncertainty. One response is to develop a deontological decision theory—a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for an act’s being permissible given an agent’s imperfect information. In this article, I show that deontologists can make more use of regular decision theory than some might have thought, but that we must adapt decision theory to accommodate agent- centered options—permissions to favor or sacrifice our (...) own interests, when doing so is overall morally worse. Accommodating options requires more than just amend- ing the decision-theoretic ‘value function’. We must change the decision rule as well. (shrink)
Abstract Agent-based virtue ethics is a unitary normative theory according to which the moral status of actions is entirely dependent upon the moral status of an agent's motives and character traits. One of the problems any such approach faces is to capture the common-sense distinction between an agent's doing the right thing, and her doing it for the right (or wrong) reason. In this paper I argue that agent-based virtue ethics ultimately fails to capture this kind (...) of fine-grained distinction, and to this extent ought to be rejected. I focus first on Michael Slote's agent-based theory, according to which the moral status of actions depends upon an agent's actual motives, and argue that this leads to a paradox. I then consider whether the ?counterfactual? version of agent-basing favoured by Rosalind Hursthouse and Linda Zagzebski fares any better, and conclude that it does not. (shrink)
Agent-based modeling is showing great promise in the social sciences. However, two misconceptions about the relation between social macroproperties and microproperties afflict agent-based models. These lead current models to systematically ignore factors relevant to the properties they intend to model, and to overlook a wide range of model designs. Correcting for these brings painful trade-offs, but has the potential to transform the utility of such models.
The current article is the first in a series of review articles addressing biosemiotic terminology. The biosemiotic glossary project is inclusive and designed to integrate views of a representative group of members within the biosemiotic community based on a standard survey and related publications. The methodology section describes the format of the survey conducted in November–December 2013 in preparation of the current review and targeted on the terms ‘agent’ and ‘agency’. Next, I summarize denotation, synonyms and antonyms, with special (...) emphasis on the denotation of these terms in current biosemiotic usage. The survey findings include ratings of nine citations defining or making use of the two terms. I provide a summary of respondents’ own definitions and suggested term usage. Further sections address etymology, connotations, and related terms in English and other languages. A section on the notions’ mainstream meaning vs. their meaning in biosemiotics is followed by attempt at synthesis and conclusions. Although there is currently no consensus in the biosemiotic community on what constitutes a semiotic agent, i.e., an agent in the context of semiosis, most respondents agree that core attributes of an agent include goal-directedness, self-governed activity, processing of semiosis and choice of action, with these features being vital for the functioning of the living system in question. I agree that these four features are constitutive of biosemiotic agents, and stipulate that biosemiotic agents fall within three major categories, namely 1) sub-organismic biosemiotic agents, 2) organismic biosemiotic agents and 3) super-organismic biosemiotic agents. (shrink)
This paper presents a logic combining Dynamic Epistemic Logic, a framework for reasoning about multi-agent communication, with a new multi-agent version of Justification Logic, a framework for reasoning about evidence and justification. This novel combination incorporates a new kind of multi-agent evidence elimination that cleanly meshes with the multi-agent communications from Dynamic Epistemic Logic, resulting in a system for reasoning about multi-agent communication and evidence elimination for groups of interacting rational agents.
A growing number of philosophers now hold that agent causation is required for agency, or free will, or moral responsibility. To clarify what is at issue, this paper begins with a distinction between agent causation that is ontologically fundamental and agent causation that is reducible to or realized in causation by events or states. It is widely accepted that agency presents us with the latter; the view in question claims a need for the former. The paper then (...) examines a “disappearing agent” argument from Derk Pereboom that is aimed at showing that free will requires agent causation that is ontologically fundamental. It is argued that the argument fails. Further, it is argued that, contrary to Pereboom’s claim, the issue raised by his disappearing agent argument is distinct from the problem of present luck that libertarian theories of free will face. The paper concludes with an assessment of the prospects for success of a disappearing agent argument showing that agent causation that is ontologically fundamental is required for agency tout court. (shrink)
Qualified-agent virtue ethics provides an account of right action in terms of the virtuous agent. It has become one of the most popular, but also most frequently criticized versions of virtue ethics. Many of the objections rest on the mistaken assumption that proponents of qualified-agent virtue ethics share the same view when it comes to fundamental questions about the meaning of the term ‘right action’ and the function of an account of right action. My aim in this (...) paper is not to defend qualified-agent virtue ethics but to correct this misunderstanding, and this will hopefully leave us in a better position to evaluate it. (shrink)
According to agent-based approaches to virtue ethics, the rightness of an action is a function of the motives which prompted that action. If those motives were morally praiseworthy, then the action was right; if they were morally blameworthy, the action was wrong. Many critics find this approach problematically insensitive to an act’s consequences, and claim that agent-basing fails to preserve the intuitive distinction between agent- and act-evaluation. In this article I show how an agent-based account of (...) right action can be made sensitive to an act’s consequences. According to the approach which I defend, an action is right just in case it realizes an agent’s morally praiseworthy motive. Conversely, an action is wrong just in case it realizes a morally blameworthy motive. Specifying act-evaluation in terms of the realization, rather than the expression, of an agent’s motives allows an agent-based approach to distinguish between agent- and act-evaluation. This is because an agent may act from a morally praiseworthy motive, but fail to realize that motive. Her action will therefore not have been the right one, despite its being the expression of morally praiseworthy motives. (shrink)
Incompatibilists and compatibilists (mostly) agree that there is a strong intuition that a manipulated agent, i.e., an agent who is the victim of methods such as indoctrination or brainwashing, is unfree. They differ however on why exactly this intuition arises. Incompatibilists claim our intuitions in these cases are sensitive to the manipulated agent’s lack of ultimate control over her actions, while many compatibilists argue that our intuitions respond to damage inflicted by manipulation on the agent’s psychological (...) and volitional capacities. Much hangs on this issue because manipulation-based arguments are among the most important for defending incompatibilist views of free will. In this paper, I investigate this issue from a experimental perspective, using a set of statistical methods well suited for identifying the features of hypothetical cases people’s intuitions are responding to. Results strongly support the compatibilist view—subjects’ tendency to judge that a manipulated agent is unfree was found to depend on their judgments that the agent suffers impairments to certain psychological/volitional capacities that compatibilists say are the basis for free will. I discuss the significance of these results for the use of manipulation cases in the philosophical debate about free will. (shrink)
Non-cognitivists claim to be able to represent normative judgment, and especially moral judgment, as an expression of a non-cognitive attitude. There is some reason to worry whether their treatment can incorporate agent centred theories, including much of common sense morality. In this paper I investigate the prospects for a non-cognitivist explanation of what is going on when we subscribe to agent centred theories or norms. The first section frames the issue by focusing on a particularly simple and clear (...)agent centred theory, egoism. The second section poses the difficulty faced by non-cognitivist analyses of such theories and norms, and runs briefly through a couple of abortive attempts to solve it. The third section offers a solution and explains it. The fourth section uses the account developed in the third section to show in what way agent centred judgments are universalizable and in what way they are not. (shrink)
This paper addresses weighting and partitioning in complex reinforcement learning tasks, with the aim of facilitating learning. The paper presents some ideas regarding weighting of multiple agents and extends them into partitioning an input/state space into multiple regions with di erential weighting in these regions, to exploit di erential characteristics of regions and di erential characteristics of agents to reduce the learning complexity of agents (and their function approximators) and thus to facilitate the learning overall. It analyzes, in reinforcement learning (...) tasks, di erent ways of partitioning a task and using agents selectively based on partitioning. Based on the analysis, some heuristic methods are described and experimentally tested. We nd that some o -line heuristic methods performed the best, signi cantly better than single-agent models. (shrink)
In this article, we propose a process-based definition of big data, as opposed to the size- and technology-based definitions. We argue that big data should be perceived as a continuous, unstructured and unprocessed dynamics of primitives, rather than as points or summaries of an underlying phenomenon. Given this, we show that big data can be generated through agent-based models but not by equation-based models. Though statistical and machine learning tools can be used to analyse big data, they do not (...) constitute a big data-generation mechanism. Furthermore, agent-based models can aid in evaluating the quality of big data. Based on this, we argue that agent-based modelling can serve as a possible foundation for big data. We substantiate this interpretation through some pioneering studies from the 1980s on swarm intelligence and several prototypical agent-based models developed around the 2000s. (shrink)
It seems common at the moment to make agent-neutrality a necessary condition of ‘consequentialism” and to hold that deontological ethics are agent-relative. This note argues that both these tendencies regrettably obscure useful terms and distinctions. It concludes by considering what it would be best, now, to mean by ‘utilitarianism” and making a proposal.
This paper evaluates the current use of the Principal Agent Model (PAM) in accounting and finance, focusing on the agent'ss use of private information. The agent'ss behavioral norms in the the PAM deviate from commonly held ethical values in society, from models of man in conventional economic theory, and also from behavioral foundations of related business school fields like corporate strategy, business ethics, and human resource management. Still, it would be unwise to reject the PAM solely because (...) of its distasteful ethical assumptions. The model does appear to have predictive power, but its descriptive or normative qualities remain unexplored. The popularity of the PAM, with its extreme model of man, raises fundamental questions about the impact of this model on business school stakeholders and society at large. (shrink)