Explicating Agency: The Case of Visual Attention

Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):379-413 (2023)
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How do individuals guide their activities towards some goal? Harry Frankfurt once identified the task of explaining guidance as the central problem in action theory. An explanation has proved to be elusive, however. In this paper, I show how we can marshal empirical research to make explanatory progress. I contend that human agents have a primitive capacity to guide visual attention, and that this capacity is actually constituted by a sub-individual psychological control-system: the executive system. I thus illustrate how we can explain exercises of individual-level guidance by appeal to its sub-individual constitution. This opens up a new avenue for explicating agency.

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Denis Buehler
Institut Jean Nicod

Citations of this work

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

Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Origins of Objectivity.Tyler Burge - 2010 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.

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