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articles in english
1. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Ann E. Cudd Individual Agency as Collective Achievement
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Most moral and political theories take agency to have special moral value, and to make the bearers of agency therefore worthy of particular moral concern. To be deprived of agency is to be wronged, and to be considered incapable of agency is to be denied respect. Thus, there is morally a lot at stake in how we conceptualize agency. Standard theories of agency, such as Bratman’s, focus on the individual use of practical reason through intention, planning, and goal-oriented action. On this account there are many lack agency, however, such as, extremely poor persons, mentally disabled persons, and traditional, collectivist cultures. Instead of understanding the core of agency to lie in the use of goal-oriented reasoning, I argue that we should locate it in norm-guided and –guiding behavior. In this paper I sketch such an alternative account. On this picture agency is more of a collective than an individual achievement. Although not all norms and traditions are morally valuable, the ability to behave in norm-guided and –guiding ways is especially valuable because it enables higher order cognitive abilities and moral action. Goal-directed agency can be seen as a special case of basic agency, given norms of rationality and planning.
2. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Christos Douskos Habit and Automaticity: Preliminaries for a Phenomenology of Habitual Action
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Although some of the most important figures in the history of philosophy have had something interesting to say about habit, habitual action has been largely neglected in contemporary action theory. An attempt to mitigate the consequences of this neglect has been recently made by Bill Pollard (2008). Pollard’s approach, however, cannot do full justice to the distinctiveness of habitual action with respect to its phenomenology. The reason is that, as with most treatments of habit in the philosophical tradition, it fails to distinguish habit from skill. It is only when this distinction is drawn that certain questions regarding the phenomenology of habit can be properly formulated.
3. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Kim Frost Basic Mistakes in Performance
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Most contemporary theories of action maintain that there are basic actions. A basic action is something that one does intentionally without doing anything else intentionally as means to that end. Most contemporary theories of action also maintain that there are non-basic actions that are mistakes in performance, where a mistake in performance is a case of mucking up what one meant to do, without the failure being the result of prevention or abnormal interference. But most contemporary theories of action deny that there are basic mistakes in performance: stretches of activity that would be basic actions were they to succeed, but are in fact mistakes in performance. I argue that we have reason to think that there are basic mistakes in performance, and if there are, then we must give up a key commitment common to much contemporary action theory. The commitment is that every particular imperfect expression of the will is grounded in some particular perfect expression of the will. Giving up this commitment has important metaphysical consequences for how we think of the will as a power of agency, and implies that causal deviance perhaps isn’t the main problem that causal theorists of action ought to worry about.
4. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Chrysoula Gitsoulis Is Free Will an Illusion?
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According to Galen Strawson, while it may be of great pragmatic value to hold people responsible for their actions, and to employ systems of reward and punishment, no one is really deserving of blame or praise for anything. Claims of autonomous agency are really just figures of speech; ultimately, no one is genuinely free or responsible. In this paper, I critically evaluate his argument for this claim, and point out some flaws with it.
5. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Óscar L. González-Castán A Common Mistake on Weakness of Will
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In this paper I shall propose the sketch of an explanatory model to deal with cases of weakness of will that has some advantages in comparison with other well-known and influential theories. The main thesis of this model, of classical inspiration, is that the weak-willed agent should be portrayed as someone who has a sort of divided self. The development of this idea will allow us to place back desire to the central stage in the explanation of this phenomenon. According to this model we do not need to give up the idea that the agent forms and maintains an unconditional intention of doing the action that he finally fails to do, as Davidson’s epistemic version of the phenomenon proposes, but we do no need to rely on the idea that there is a causal gap between intentions and actions, as Searle’s ontological version of it makes us think.
6. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Evangelos Grammatikopoulos Praxis in Aristotle and Heidegger’s Being and Time
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Heidegger’s early period is one of the most silent in the lifetime of the great German philosopher. During that period he planned his most celebrated undertaking, Being and Time, which has influenced in manifold ways the philosophical thought of the 20th century. The lead role that Aristotle holds in the university courses and the writings of this period and more specifically his practical philosophy, which Heidegger will attempt to reform and subsume into his own philosophical system, will raise the question of the relationship between two fundamental human activities: Theory and Praxis. What is however the content that praxis will eventually take within the Heideggerian framework? What is its genuine affinity with the Aristotelian θεωρία? The examination of Heidegger’s attempt to transcend the distinction between theory and praxis (or between sophia and phronesis) and to compete with the very force of the Aristotelian position leads us to reconsider the form that this relationship takes in the human being.
7. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Anju Joshi Why Honesty is the Best Policy
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An attempt has been made to show that the Indian Law of Karma-an extension of the Law of Causality to the moral sphere, can solve the problem of free will. If interpreted as the double – account theory, man can be shown to be free and determined at any given time – free in the performance of present actions but determined with respect to the consequences that must necessarily ensue of actions previously performed. Unlike western theories of determinism which talk of man’s actions being determined and hence predictable before the action is performed, I have argued that determinism sets in only after actions are freely performed by the agent .Once performed, then even man’s will is determined for he must make choices and decisions that lead to his due in terms of rewards and punishments. It is hence prudent to be honest so as to ‘earn’ rewards and not ‘accrue’ setbacks in life. This law, like any other natural law, works mechanically by making the presumption of a divine arbitrator redundant.
8. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Hyun Chul Kim Normative Considerations in Defining the Concept of Intentional Action
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The task of defining intentional action has given rise to heated debates in contemporary philosophy. I will show that it is not enough to fully understand the phenomena of intentional action by analyzing only the agent’s reasons that accompany each type of action. The solution for the problem generated by the Standard Account in explaining intentional action is to rethink the notion of intentional action and I approached the issue of intentional action by focusing on the role of normative considerations in determining whether an action was performed intentionally. The reason why we need to take normative considerations is derived from the falsity of the Simple View, which is to say that there is a gap between what is required for intending to Φ and what is sufficient for intentionally Φ-ing. By focusing on this aspect I provide a novel definition of intentional action. The definition recommends itself as being capable of dealing with many problems, including the problems raised by unintended side effects and lucky actions
9. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Mikael Melan About the Possibility of Acting without a Desire
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Since the very first steps taken within the realm of philosophy of action the ideas of acting and wanting have intertwined together in a way that it seems impossible to tear them apart again. However, while considering the nature of sub-intentional actions in her “Sub-intentional Actions and the Over-mentalization of Agency” Helen Steward (302–303) uses them to argue that the connection does not hold of necessity. The origin of the term ‘sub-intentional action’ Steward (ibid. 298) associates with Brian O’Shaughnessy and with it she refers to those little things people do usually even without noticing. She (ibid.) mentions things like “slightly rearranging oneself, absent-mindedly scratching one’s head, fiddling with one’s jewellery, [and] leaning a bit more this way or that”. I believe that Steward’s assertion, albeit being fresh and interesting, in an untenable manner challenges something very intrinsic to actions, and thus I am willing to defend the ancient position about the connection between wanting and acting even under such vexed cases as sub-intentional actions.
10. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Matteo Negro Practical Rationality and Common Good
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Can we imagine a non-contradictory relationship between rational choice and common good? Is it possible that individuals with the most diverse preferences make choices for the common good? As has been fully demonstrated by the Arrow’s impossibility theorem, it is impossible to reach the harmonization among maximization of social choice and individual preferences, to reach the satisfaction of the slightest need for individual freedom combined with Pareto efficiency, non-dictatorship, independence of irrelevant alternatives and unrestricted domain. It is therefore necessary to admit the existence of an additional factor, a normative-transcendental factor, what we might call the “form” of each preference. The agent obviously cannot escape the dynamics of preference, but he or she relies on a rational criterion of preference. This normative requirement of deliberation and evaluation needs to inform the preferences, beliefs and desires of the agent. Common good is therefore not a result, that is the consequence of an impossible agreement between all the preferences, but is founded before the choices, is at the origin of the preferences themselves. Just as each individual is a self, identical over time, ontologically relational, ordered to the search for the good and provided with deliberative rationality, it is conceivable a common normative bond, which extends the class of motivators and allows the choice of appropriate means.
11. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Mercedes Rivero Obra The Subject as an Actor
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The identity and the agency of the subject have been recurrent topics in the history of the theatre and of philosophy. Both disciplines pursue similar objectives that have guided their research along analogous paths. This assay is intended to examine the idea of the agent subject that David Velleman suggests (the agent as an actor), and which uses as an example the work carried out by Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. In addition, it studies Narrative Identity through the thesis of Peter Goldie and presents its relationship with -what could be called- Acting or Dramatic Identity (closest to David Velleman). The fundamental intention is to discover the way in which the subject acts to build his identity, and try to make sense of his actions.
12. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Jamsheed Siyar Against the Instrumental Principle: A Kantian Account
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In a much-discussed passage, Kant claims that it is an analytic proposition that whoever wills an end wills the necessary means to that end. The standard reading of this passage holds that Kant was here implicitly appealing to a normative principle; viz. that whoever wills an end ought also to will the means to that end. I argue here that the normative reading is mistaken, and that Kant was in fact asserting that the willing of the necessary means analytically follows from the willing of an end. In particular I argue that propositions articulating an agent’s willing of the means are analytic-practical propositions that can be derived from the agent’s willing of an end. Further, the derivation of these propositions is possible given the self-conception an agent necessarily inhabits insofar as she wills an end.
13. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Maria Cristina de Távora Sparano Mental Causation: Davidson-Hanna and Maiese
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The aim of this paper is to present contrasting perspectives in the Philosophy of mind in Robert Hanna and Michelle Maiese’s text Embodied Minds In Action (2009). In that text the authors criticize and find a contrary position to one of Donald Davidson’s core thesis related to the specific problem of mental causation and intentional action. The question presented by Davidson is: What explains the causal relevance and causal efficacy of conscious, intentional minds like ours in the physical Word? Having a reason means to enunciate its cause, mentioning mental states that lead the agent to act in a certain way. Unlike causal theories of mind, this theory does not appeal to psychological laws. The causal explanation of an action is always unique and rests on normative principles of rationality. Hanna and Maiese, also start pointing out the categorical difference between intentional actions and events; they seek neuro-phenomenological, conceptual and metaphysical connections between intentional actions, reasons and causes for them. The author’s solution for the problem Mind-Body, is that for subjective conscious minds and material objective bodies one should take into consideration complementary properties both from the metaphysical and mental point of view as well as from the material and objective point of view.
14. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Susanne Uusitalo Addictive Action and Difficulty
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Addiction is a phenomenon that usually offers challenges to theories of action. If we consider the standard causal theory of addiction, explaining addicts’ action in terms of their addictive desires leaves them without agency. If the compulsive desires bring about the action, despite the addicts’ views and attitudes toward their addiction, the desire just seems to force the addict to act accordingly. In light of philosophical studies (e.g. Watson 1999 and Levy 2006), this is not a plausible way of understanding addicts’ action, as they are agents in the sense that they are basically able to control their action and refrain from acting according to their addiction. Still it seems more difficult for addicts to act against the addictive desire. There has been empirical research that heroin addicts, for instance, have strong attentional bias to heroin-related cues and this feeds the strong desire they have for heroin (see Field and Cox 2008). In the presentation, I will consider two ways in which the addictive desire may be understood as a source of difficulty that the agent may experience in their action.
articles in french
15. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Oumar Dia Décider et agir aujourd’hui en Afrique
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L’action est un processus à trois temps où il faut d’abord délibérer, ensuite décider et enfin exécuter ce qui a été retenu. De tous ces moments constitutifs de l’action, il semble que la phase de la décision est la plus délicate et la plus importante parce qu’elle donne une orientation irréversible à l’action. Précédée par une longue délibération, elle s’inscrit logiquement dans la durée. Les sociétés traditionnelles africaines, qui étaient des sociétés de l’oralité, s’accommodaient parfaitement de processus de décision inscrits dans la durée. Cela signifie-t-il qu’il y avait moins d’urgences dans l’Afrique traditionnelle que dans celle d’aujourd’hui ? En tout cas, le fait tangible aujourd’hui est que l’Afrique est assaillie par des urgences de toutes sortes. La lenteur avec laquelle les Africains répondent à ces urgences peut faire penser qu’on y est encore sous l’emprise de l’oralité et de ses lents processus de décision. Pour vérifier cette hypothèse, on s’intéressera aux structures argumentatives des sociétés africaines en les formalisant grâce aux outils de la logique. De notre point de vue, la décision et l’action requises dans l’Afrique d’aujourd’hui nécessitent un tel travail d’élucidation.
articles in russian
16. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Andrey Kravchenko The Interpretations of Violence and Lie in the European Philosophical Tradition: Immanuel Kant
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In the modern ethical discourse there are multiple polemics on ethical absolutism, bringing to the forefront two commandments - “you shall not murder” (commonly expanded to non-committing of violence) and “you shall not lie”. To understand the meaning of this polemics it is very important to turn to the European philosophical-ethical tradition (to the ideas of Kant in this case). This paper highlights the idea that two principles, mentioned above, were not equal for Kant. If lie was impossible for him, then violence turned out to be permissible.
articles in greek
17. Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 44
Ευάγγελος Γραμματικόπουλος Η πράξη στον Αριστοτέλη και στο Είναι και χρόνος του Heidegger
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Η πρώιμη περίοδος του Heidegger αποτελεί μια από τις πιο σιωπηλές περιόδους στη διάρκεια της ζωής του μεγάλου Γερμανού φιλοσόφου. Εντός της κυοφορείται το επιφανέστερο φιλοσοφικό έργο του, το Είναι και χρόνος, το οποίο θα επηρεάσει πολυσχιδώς τη φιλοσοφική σκέψη του προηγούμενου αιώνα. Ο πρωταγωνιστικός ρόλος του Αριστοτέλη στις πανεπιστημιακές διαλέξεις και στα συγγράμματα του φιλοσόφου αυτής της περιόδου που αφορούν την πρακτική φιλοσοφία του, την οποία ο Heidegger επιχειρεί να αναμορφώσει και να εντάξει στο δικό του φιλοσοφικό σύστημα, θέτουν το ζήτημα της σχέσης μεταξύ δύο θεμελιωδών ανθρώπινων δραστηριοτήτων: της θεωρίας και της πράξης. Ποιό είναι το περιεχόμενο που θα λάβει τελικά η «πράξη» εντός του χαϊντεγκεριανού πλαισίου; Ποιά είναι η γνήσια σχέση της με την αριστοτελική θεωρία; Η εξέταση της απόπειρας του Heidegger να προβεί σε μια παραβίαση της διάκρισης μεταξύ «θεωρίας» και «πράξης» (ή μεταξύ σοφίας και φρόνησης) και να αναμετρηθεί με την ίδια την ισχύ της αριστοτελικής θέσης, ωθεί σε μια επαναδιερεύνηση της μορφής που λαμβάνει η ως άνω σχέση εντός της ανθρώπινης υπόστασης.