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This session covers these questions:
Which things are agents?
What are intentions?
Which events are expressions of agency?
[Barty] How are we to understand the ‘you’ in The Problem of Action?
[Jan] Was not Davidson in his Essay ‘Agency’ concerned with Agency and therefore Intentional Action that is an expression of Agency rather than action per se?
We discuss James’ examples of action slips and Velleman’s distinction between purposeful activity and autonomous action.
In responding to the questions, I pose a challenge: we should not make assumptions about the role of consciousness in selecting, preparing and performing actions unless we can justify them. Hommel (2017) demonstrates, in effect, why this challenge is a good one. He argues that
‘conscious experience does not seem to play a role in ongoing action control, [but] is likely to provide the basis for interpersonal learning and cultural transmission.’ (Hommel, 2017, p. 120)
Your question will normally be answered in the question session associated with this lecture.