Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency

Philosophical Review 109 (1):35-61 (2000)
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We are purposive agents; but we—adult humans in a broadly modern world—are more than that. We are reflective about our motivation. We form prior plans and policies that organize our activity over time. And we see ourselves as agents who persist over time and who begin, develop, and then complete temporally extended activities and projects. Any reasonably complete theory of human action will need in some way to advert to this trio of features—to our reflectiveness, our planfulness, and our conception of our agency as temporally extended. These are, further, features that have great significance for the kinds of lives we can live. For these two reasons I will say that these are among the core features of human agency. A theory of human action needs to say what these core features consist in and how they are related to each other. And such a theory needs also to clarify the relation between these core features of our agency and the possibility that we are fully embedded in an event causal order.



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Michael Bratman
Stanford University

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