Deciding as Intentional Action: Control over Decisions

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):335-351 (2015)
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Abstract

Common-sense folk psychology and mainstream philosophy of action agree about decisions: these are under an agent's direct control, and are thus intentional actions for which agents can be held responsible. I begin this paper by presenting a problem for this view. In short, since the content of the motivational attitudes that drive deliberation and decision remains open-ended until the moment of decision, it is unclear how agents can be thought to exercise control over what they decide at the moment of deciding. I note that this problem might motivate a non-actional view of deciding?a view that decisions are not actions, but are instead passive events of intention acquisition. For without an understanding of how an agent might exercise control over what is decided at the moment of deciding, we lack a good reason for maintaining commitment to an actional view of deciding. However, I then offer the required account of how agents exercise control over decisions at the moment of deciding. Crucial to this account is an understanding of the relation of practical deliberation to deciding, an understanding of skilled deliberative activity, and the role of attention in the mental action of deciding.

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Joshua Shepherd
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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The Varieties of Reference.Gareth Evans - 1982 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by John Henry McDowell.
Mind and World.John Henry McDowell - 1994 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Reference and Consciousness.John Campbell - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The Significance of Free Will.Robert Kane - 1996 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.
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