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Toward a general model of agency


Martinelli, Emanuele (2023). Toward a general model of agency. Argumenta, 8(2):299-317.

Abstract

Generally speaking, the present literature on agency has been heavily focused on human agency. This approach proves to be very useful for the immediate applications of the philosophy of agency, e.g. to develop a definition ready for use in ethics or political philosophy. However, there are some limitations to this line of thought, as, for instance, it poses too restrictive requirements on agency, like purposefulness, consciousness, or willingness. In this paper, I would like to tackle the question of agency with the need to include non-human agency in mind. I will set the foundations for a conceptual framework to define agency in the most general terms possible. This framework should be able to capture the conditions at which something possesses agency and the features of different kinds of agents in a way that includes animals and plants, mobs, institutions, ecosystems, AI machines, artifacts, and so on. In general, I claim that agency is based on a weak notion of intentionality, ‘directedness’, which does not require mentality or purposefulness.

Abstract

Generally speaking, the present literature on agency has been heavily focused on human agency. This approach proves to be very useful for the immediate applications of the philosophy of agency, e.g. to develop a definition ready for use in ethics or political philosophy. However, there are some limitations to this line of thought, as, for instance, it poses too restrictive requirements on agency, like purposefulness, consciousness, or willingness. In this paper, I would like to tackle the question of agency with the need to include non-human agency in mind. I will set the foundations for a conceptual framework to define agency in the most general terms possible. This framework should be able to capture the conditions at which something possesses agency and the features of different kinds of agents in a way that includes animals and plants, mobs, institutions, ecosystems, AI machines, artifacts, and so on. In general, I claim that agency is based on a weak notion of intentionality, ‘directedness’, which does not require mentality or purposefulness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology and the Study of Religion > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:Action, Agency, Agential structure, Autonomy, Directedness, Intentionality
Language:English
Date:2023
Deposited On:31 Jul 2023 08:22
Last Modified:31 Dec 2023 08:05
Publisher:Università degli Studi di Sassari
ISSN:2465-2334
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.14275/2465-2334/202316.mar