This paper proposes and defends an account of what it is to act for reasons. In the first part, I will discuss the desire-belief and the deliberative model of acting for reasons. I will argue that we can avoid the weaknesses and retain the strengths of both views, if we pursue an alternative according to which acting for reasons involves taking something as a reason. In the main part, I will develop an account of what it is to take something (...) as a reason for action. On the basis of this, I will then offer a new account of what it is to act for reasons. (shrink)
According to the standard view in philosophy, intentionality is the mark of genuine action. In psychology, human cognition and agency are now widely explained in terms of the workings of two distinct systems (or types of processes), and intentionality is not a central notion in this dual-system theory. Further, it is often claimed, in psychology, that most human actions are automatic, rather than consciously controlled. This raises pressing questions. Does the dual-system theory preserve the philosophical account of intentional action? How (...) much of our behavior is intentional according to this view? And what is the role of consciousness? I will propose here a revised account of intentional action within the dual-system framework, and we will see that most of our behavior can qualify as intentional, even if most of it is automatic. An important lesson will be that philosophical accounts of intentional action need to pay more attention to the role of consciousness in action. (shrink)
The luck argument raises a serious challenge for libertarianism about free will. In broad outline, if an action is undetermined, then it appears to be a matter of luck whether or not one performs it. And if it is a matter of luck whether or not one performs an action, then it seems that the action is not performed with free will. This argument is most effective against event-causal accounts of libertarianism. Recently, Franklin (Philosophical Studies 156:199–230, 2011) has defended event-causal (...) libertarianism against four formulations of the luck argument. I will argue that three of Franklin’s responses are unsuccessful and that there are important versions of the luck challenge that his defense has left unaddressed. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet’s work paved the way for the neuroscientific study of free will. Other scientists have praised this research as groundbreaking. In philosophy, the reception has been more negative, often even dismissive. First, I will propose a diagnosis of this striking discrepancy. I will suggest that the experiments seem irrelevant, from the perspective of philosophy, due to the way in which they operationalize free will. In particular, I will argue that this operational definition does not capture free will properly and (...) that it is based on a false dichotomy between internal and external causes. However, I will also suggest that this problem could be overcome, as there are no obvious obstacles to an operationalization of free will that is in accord with the philosophical conception of free will. (shrink)
Alfred Mele’s zygote argument is widely considered to be the strongest version of the manipulation argument against compatibilism (about free will and determinism). Opponents have focused largely on the first of its two premises and on the overall dialectic. My focus here will be on the underlying thought experiment—the Diana scenario—and on the second premise of the argument. I will argue that reflection on the Diana scenario shows that the second premise does not hold, and we will see that my (...) objection to the second premise helps to defend the claim that manipulation arguments face, in general, a dilemma. (shrink)
Empirical evidence challenges many of the assumptions that underlie traditional philosophical and commonsense conceptions of human agency. It has been suggested that this evidence threatens also to undermine free will and moral responsibility. In this paper, I will focus on the purported threat to moral responsibility. The evidence challenges assumptions concerning the ability to exercise conscious control and to act for reasons. This raises an apparent challenge to moral responsibility as these abilities appear to be necessary for morally responsible agency. (...) I will argue that this challenge collapses once the underlying conditions on moral responsibility are specified in sufficient detail. I will argue, in other words, that the empirical evidence does not support a challenge to the assumption that we are, in general, morally responsible agents. In the final section, I will suggest that empirical research on human agency is nevertheless relevant to various questions about moral responsibility. (shrink)
Benjamin Libet's empirical challenge to free will has received a great deal of attention and criticism. A standard line of response has emerged that many take to be decisive against Libet's challenge. In the first part of this paper, I will argue that this standard response fails to put the challenge to rest. It fails, in particular, to address a recent follow-up experiment that raises a similar worry about free will (Soon, Brass, Heinze, & Haynes, 2008). In the second part, (...) however, I will argue that we can altogether avoid Libet-style challenges if we adopt a traditional compatibilist account of free will. In the final section, I will briefly explain why there is good and independent reason to think about free will in this way. (shrink)
Traditional compatibilism about free will is widely considered to be untenable. In particular, the conditional analysis of the ability to do otherwise appears to be subject to clear counterexamples. I will propose a new version of traditional compatibilism that provides a conditional account of both the ability to do otherwise and the ability to choose to do otherwise, and I will argue that this view withstands the standard objections to traditional compatibilism. For this, I will assume with incompatibilists that the (...) mere possession of a general ability to do otherwise is not sufficient for having the ability that is required for free will. This concession distinguishes the view from the traditional conditional analysis and from recent dispositional accounts of the ability to do otherwise, and we will see that this concession enables a straightforward response to the counterexamples. This, in turn, will play a crucial role in my response to the strongest version of the consequence argument for incompatibilism. (shrink)
Empirical evidence, it has often been argued, undermines our commonsense assumptions concerning the efficacy of conscious intentions. One of the most influential advocates of this challenge has been Daniel Wegner, who has presented an impressive amount of evidence in support of a model of "apparent mental causation". According to Wegner, this model provides the best explanation of numerous curious and pathological cases of behavior. Further, it seems that Benjamin Libet's classic experiment on the initiation of action and the empirical evidence (...) concerning the confabulation of reason explanations provide further support for this view. In response, I will propose an alternative model of "real mental causation" that can accommodate the empirical evidence just as well as Wegner's. Further, we will see that there is plenty of evidence in support of the assumption that intentions are causally efficacious. This will provide us with ample reason to endorse the model of real mental causation. (shrink)
Most contemporary philosophers of action agree on the following claims. Firstly, the possibility of deviant or wayward causal chains poses a serious problem for the standard-causal theory of action. Secondly, we can distinguish between different kinds of deviant causal chains in the theory of action. In particular, we can distinguish between cases of basic and cases of consequential deviance. Thirdly, the problem of consequential deviance admits of a fairly straightforward solution, whereas the possibility of basic deviance constitutes a separate and (...) difficult problem that requires its own solution. I will argue that the problem of basic deviance is no more troublesome than the problem of consequential deviance, as a solution to the former is implicit in the standard solution to the latter. (shrink)
The causal theory of action has been the standard view in the philosophy of action and mind. In this chapter, I will present responses to two challenges to the theory. The first says, basically, that there is no positive argument in favour of the causal theory, as the only reason that supports it consists in the apparent lack of tenable alternatives. The second challenge says that the theory fails to capture the phenomenon of agency, as it reduces activity to mere (...) happenings (events and event-causal processes). This is often referred to as the problem of "disappearing agency". My main aim is to show that there is no problem of disappearing agency, and we will see that my response to the first challenge will be conducive to this end. I will present a positive argument for the causal theory on the basis of considerations concerning the metaphysics of agency, and I will suggest that we "own" the agency that springs from our mental states and events "by default". (shrink)
Given some reasonable assumptions concerning the nature of mental causation, non-reductive physicalism faces the following dilemma. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects (given the causal closure of the physical). If mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided if we drop the dichotomy between physical and mental events. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. But actions (...) are neither mental nor physical events. They are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductive physicalism without downward causation. The tenability of this view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that non-reductive physicalism is committed to downward causation. Appealing to the nature of actions, I will argue that this commitment can be avoided. (shrink)
In very general terms, an agent is a being with the capacity to act, and 'agency' denotes the exercise or manifestation of this capacity. The philosophy of action provides us with a standard conception and a standard theory of action. The former construes action in terms of intentionality, the latter explains the intentionality of action in terms of causation by the agent’s mental states and events. From this, we obtain a standard conception and a standard theory of agency. There are (...) alternative conceptions of agency, and it has been argued that the standard theory fails to capture agency. Further, it seems that genuine agency can be exhibited by beings that are not capable of intentional action, and it has been argued that agency can and should be explained without reference to causally efficacious mental states and events. Debates about the nature of agency have flourished over the past few decades in philosophy and in other areas of research. In philosophy, the nature of agency is an important issue in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of psychology, the debates on free will and moral responsibility, in ethics, meta-ethics, and in the debates on the nature of reasons and practical rationality. For the most part, this entry focuses on conceptual and metaphysical questions concerning the nature of agency. In the final sections, it provides an overview of empirically informed accounts of the sense of agency and of various empirical challenges to the commonsense assumption that our reasons and our conscious intentions make a real difference to how we act. (shrink)
This paper is about the causal exclusion argument against non-reductive physicalism. Many philosophers think that this argument poses a serious problem for non-reductive theories of the mind — some think that it is decisive against them. In the first part I will outline non-reductive physicalism and the exclusion argument. Then I will distinguish between three versions of the argument that address three different versions of non-reductive physicalism. According to the first, the relation between mental and physical events is token-identity. According (...) to the second, mental events are distinct from physical events, but the latter metaphysically include and determine the former. And on the third version, mental and physical events are entirely distinct. I will argue that the causal exclusion argument is not decisive against non-reductive physicalism in any of the three versions. According to non-reductive physicalism, mental events are dependent on physical events. Causal exclusion and overdetermination, however, requires distinct and independent causes. I will argue that the burden of proof lies with the opponents of non-reductive physicalism, who have to explain how metaphysically dependent events can possibly overdetermine an effect or exclude each other from being causally efficacious. (shrink)
Like all causal theories in philosophy, the causal theory of action is plagued by the problem of deviant causal chains. I have proposed a solution on the basis of the assumption that mental states and events are causally efficacious in virtue of their contents. This solution has been questioned by Torbjörn Tännsjö (2009). First, I will reply to the objection, and then I will discuss Tännsjö’s alternative.
This paper proposes a causal-dispositional account of rule-following as it occurs in reasoning and intentional agency. It defends this view against Kripke’s (1982) objection to dispositional accounts of rule-following, and it proposes a solution to the problem of deviant causal chains. In the first part, I will outline the causal-dispositional approach. In the second part, I will follow Martin and Heil’s (1998) realist response to Kripke’s challenge. I will propose an account that distinguishes between two kinds of rule-conformity and two (...) kinds of rule-following, and I will defend the realist approach against two challenges that have recently been raised by Handfield and Bird (2008). In the third part, I will turn to the problem of deviant causal chains, and I will propose a new solution that is partly based on the realist account of rule-following. (shrink)
The conditional analysis of dispositions is widely rejected, mainly due to counterexamples in which dispositions are either “finkish” or “masked.” David Lewis proposed a reformed conditional analysis. This view avoids the problem of finkish dispositions, but it fails to solve the problem of masking. I will propose a reformulation of Lewis’ analysis, and I will argue that this reformulation can easily be modified so that it avoids the problem of masking. In the final section, I will address the challenge that (...) some dispositions appear to lack any stimulus condition, and I will briefly turn to the issue of reductionism. (shrink)
Mainstream philosophy of action and mind construes intentional behaviour in terms of causal processes that lead from agent-involving mental states to action. Actions are construed as events, which are actions in virtue of being caused by the right mental antecedents in the right way. Opponents of this standard event-causal approach have criticised the view on various grounds; they argue that it does not account for free will and moral responsibility, that it does not account for action done in the light (...) of reasons, or, even, that it cannot capture the very phenomenon of agency. The thesis defends the standard event-causal approach against challenges of that kind. (shrink)
The detrimental effect of the public recital on the quality of epic production in the first century is a stock theme both in ancient and in modern literary criticism. While previous studies on the epic recital emphasize its negative effects, or aim at its reconstruction as social reality, I focus on its conflicting representations by the ancients themselves and the lessons that we can learn from them. The voices of critics and defenders reveal anxieties about who controls the prestigious high (...) genre of epic and about the construction of gender and social status through epic's public performance. Critics of the recitatio such as Horace, Persius, Petronius and Juvenal represent it as an informal and popular event that panders to public taste and incurs infamy. These critics charge that the epic recital has an effeminizing effect both on the recitator and on his audience, a charge traditionally advanced against orators and actors. Because the epic recital in Rome lacks a performative context similar to the rhapsodic performances in Greece, its public image mirrors that of other public performances . The main point of divergence is the presence of the book, the symbol of permanent fame, which casts upon the recital the shadow of an evanescent entertainment. Defenders see the recital as instrumental to the maintenance of literature's value in society. This means that well into the first century there were those who felt nostalgia for the epic recital as a bulwark of male aristocratic values and who wanted to reclaim its prestige. Both Statius as a poet, who performed regularly at Domitian's court, and Suetonius, who acted as Hadrian's ab epistulis some twenty years after Statius' death, defend the waning reputation of the contemporary epic recital in an effort to reclaim it as a prestigious component of imperial literary culture. While critics unanimously negate the recital's role in the achievement of poetic fame in favor of the book, Suetonius chooses anecdotal evidence about the early performances by grammarians grammarians that show the important role of the recital in forging poetic fame. The emperor and the members of the new aristocracy whom Statius explicitly names as the target audience of his epic recitals have a stake in reclaiming for imperial culture an institution that went back to the second century B.C.E. and carried the prestige of an aristocratic event. (shrink)
Introduction, by R. A. Markus.--St. Augustine and Christian Platonism, by A. H. Armstrong.--Action and contemplation, by F. R. J. O'Connell.--St. Augustine on signs, by R. A. Markus.--The theory of signs in St. Augustine's De doctrina Christiana, by B. D. Jackson.--Si fallor, sum, by G. B. Matthews.--Augustine on speaking from memory, by G. B. Matthews.--The inner man, by G. B. Matthews.--On Augustine's concept of a person, by A. C. Lloyd.--Augustine on foreknowledge and free will, by W. L. Rowe.--Augustine on (...) free will and predestination, by J. M. Rist.--Time and contingency in St. Augustine, by R. Jordan.--Empiricism and Augustine's problems about time, by H. M. Lacey.--Political society, by P. R. L. Brown.--The development of Augustine's ideas on society before the Donatist controversy, by F. E. Cranz.--De Civitate Dei, XV, 2, and Augustine's idea of the Christian society, by F. E. Cranz.--Chronological table.--Note on further reading (p. -423). (shrink)
According to radical versions of embodied cognition, human cognition and agency should be explained without the ascription of representational mental states. According to a standard reply, accounts of embodied cognition can explain only instances of cognition and agency that are not “representation-hungry”. Two main types of such representation-hungry phenomena have been discussed: cognition about “the absent” and about “the abstract”. Proponents of representationalism have maintained that a satisfactory account of such phenomena requires the ascription of mental representations. Opponents have denied (...) this. I will argue that there is another important representation-hungry phenomenon that has been overlooked in this debate: temporally extended planning agency. In particular, I will argue that it is very difficult to see how planning agency can be explained without the ascription of mental representations, even if we grant, for the sake of argument, that cognition about the absent and abstract can. We will see that this is a serious challenge for the radical as well as the more modest anti-representationalist versions of embodied cognition, and we will see that modest anti-representationalism is an unstable position. (shrink)
Libertarianism appears to be incoherent, because free will appears to be incompatible with indeterminism. In support of this claim, van Inwagen offered an argument that is now known as the “rollback argument”. In a recent reply, Lara Buchak has argued that the underlying thought experiment fails to support the first of two key premises. On her view, this points to an unexplored alternative in the free will debate, which she calls “chance-incompatibilism”. I will argue that the rollback thought experiment does (...) support the second key premise of the argument, and, more importantly, that libertarianism is committed to the first premise for independent reasons concerning the relationship between the normative and causal strength of the agent’s reasons. The upshot will be that chance-incompatibilism is not a promising new alternative in the free will debate, and we will see that the debate around those issues can benefit from more attention to the role of the agent’s reasons for action. (shrink)
According to what I call the reductive standard-causal theory of agency, the exercise of an agent's power to act can be reduced to the causal efficacy of agent-involving mental states and events. According to a non-reductive agent-causal theory, an agent's power to act is irreducible and primitive. Agent-causal theories have been dismissed on the ground that they presuppose a very contentious notion of causation, namely substance-causation. In this paper I will assume, with the proponents of the agent-causal approach, that substance-causation (...) is possible, as I will argue against that theory on the ground that it fails as a theory of agency. I will argue that the non-reductive agent-causal theory fails to account for agency, because it fails to account for agential control: it cannot explain why the stipulated irreducible relation between the agent and an action constitutes the agent's exercise of control over the action. This objection, I will argue, applies to the agent-causal theory in particular, and to the non-reductive approach in general. (shrink)
This topos is focused on intentions, with an emphasis on integrating philosophical analysis and empirical findings. Theorizing about human action has a long history in philosophy, and the nature of intention and intentional action has received a lot of attention in recent analytic philosophy. At the same time, intentional action has become an empirically studied phenomenon in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and robotics. Many results obtained in these areas have been incorporated within the current philosophical debate, while at the (...) same time scientists have often adopted in their experiments and models philosophical assumptions on the nature of intention and intentional action. As a result, the study of intentions is nowadays a thriving enterprise, where both conceptual and empirical issues are discussed in a dialogue across disciplines. This is well reflected in the selection of papers published here.Davide Rigoni and Marcel Brass discuss the social and n. (shrink)
Donald Davidson brought to our attention deviant causal chains as a problem for causal theories of action. Consider Davidson's own example: " A climber might want to rid himself of the weight and danger of holding another man on a rope, and he might know that by loosening his hold on the rope he could rid himself of the weight and danger. This belief and want might so unnerve him as to cause him to loosen his hold, and yet it (...) might be the case that he never chose to loosen his hold, nor did he do it intentionally. " The loosening of the hold on the rope is an action, according to a simple causal theory of action earlier developed by Davidson , if we can describe it in a way that renders it intentional under that description. Is there a way of describing the climber's loosening of his hold of the rope as intentional? Did he intentionally loosen his hold? Well, his loosening his hold is both rationalized and explained causally with reference to the beliefs and desires held by the climber. But there seems to be something wrong with the causal chain.Is there a simple fix? Could we not say that even if the loosening of the hold on the rope is caused by a desire held by the climber it is not caused by any proximate desire of the climber ? Or, to give a new twist to this well-known argument, could we not say that the loosening of the hold on the rope is not caused in a way that is responsive to the desire? This latter idea has recently been suggested by Markus E. Schlosser as a simple solution to the …. (shrink)
Resenha do livro de Juan Adolfo Bonaccini, Maria de Paz Nunes Medeiros, Markus Figueira de Silva e Oscar Frederico Bauchwitz (Org.). Metafísica: história e problemas: atas do I Colóquio Internacional da Metafísica . Natal: EDUFRN, 2006, 332 páginas. [Coleçáo Metafísica n. 5].
Partee (2009) conjectures a formal semantics for natural language (hereafter, single-type semantics) that interprets CPs and referential DPs in the same semantic type: properties of situations. Partee’s semantics contrasts with Montague semantics and its recent contenders (dubbed dual- or multi-type semantics) which assume distinct basic types for the semantic values of referential DPs (i.e. individuals) and CPs (i.e. propositions, truth-values, or sets of assignment functions). Partee’s conjecture is motivated by results in event semantics and discourse representation theory, which support the (...) indirect uni-directional shiftability between propositions and individuals. However, none of these results supports the identity of the types for individuals and propositions. Our paper improves upon the strength and scope of Partee’s support for single-type semantics. In particular, it identifies a number of new arguments for the adoption of single-type semantics which display this semantics’ greater unificatory and explanatory power. These arguments are based on the ability of single-type semantics to provide a uniform account of the distributional similarities between DPs and CPs, to explain the truth-evaluability of DP fragments, and to capture semantic inclusion relations between CPs and referential DPs. To further support single-type semantics, we defend it against a number of objections. (shrink)
Este breve artigo traz em seu bojo a articulaçáo da compreensáo physiologica do corpo-carne em Epicuro com a Techne he Ietrike (Medicina Antiga), com vistas a mostrar o ethos (carater) comum à medicina e a filosofia na antiguidade.
Este breve artigo traz em seu bojo a articulaçáo da compreensáo physiologica do corpo-carne em Epicuro com a Techne he Ietrike (Medicina Antiga), com vistas a mostrar o ethos (carater) comum à medicina e a filosofia na antiguidade.
Luciano Berio apre il suo testamento poetico, Un ricordo al futuro, con un esplicito rinvio alla tripartizione della musica operata da Boezio e durante la discussione di specifiche tematiche della musica contemporanea vi torna a più riprese. Il presente lavoro intende indagare i motivi per un tale coinvolgimento dell’autore medievale nella ricerca poetica ed estetica di uno dei più importanti rappresentanti del mondo musicale novecentesco nonché il modo in cui la teoria di Boezio viene attualizzata da Berio. Si scoprirà che (...) i problemi della musica del Novecento richiedono una profonda riflessione filosofica la quale però non può limitarsi alla sola componente teoretica e astratta, se non vuole perdere di vista la musica, e che non può limitarsi alle sole pratiche musicali se non vuole rinunciare alla propria autocoscienza. In questo senso Berio reinterpreta i tre tipi di musica, mundana, humana ed intrumentalis nella concezione boeziana per confrontarsi non solo con il grande problema del rapporto tra teoria e pratica musicale, ma anche per discutere specifiche tematiche musicali del Novecento. Luciano Berio begins his poetical testament, Remembering the future, with an explicit link to the three types of music conceived by Boezio and during the discussion of specific themes of contemporary music he returns on this item several times. The present work intends to investigate the motivation of a similar confrontation with this medieval philosopher within the poetic and aesthetic research of one of the most important representatives of nineteenth century music; on the other hand the intention is to make clear in which way he proceeds by actualizing Boezio’s theory. It will become clear that the problems of nineteenth century music necessitate a profound philosophical reflection, which can not be limited to its mere theoretical and abstract component, if it doesn’t want to miss music in itself and, on the other hand, it can not be limited to the only musical practice, if it doesn’t want to renounce on its own consciousness. In this sense Berio reinterprets the three types of music, mundana, humana and intrumentalis, in their boezian conception in order to cope not only with the one big problem of the relationship between musical theory and practice, but also in order to discuss specific musical themes of the nineteenth century. (shrink)