Two Kinds of Agency

Pamela Hieronymi

in Mental Actions

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780199225989
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191710339 | DOI:
Two Kinds of Agency

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This chapter introduces a novel account of our agency over certain attitudes (most centrally, belief and intention). The account assumes that these attitudes embody our answer to a question. Thus, we exercise two kinds of agency over them: we control these attitudes either by changing our answer to the question they embody (exercising evaluative control) or by acting upon them to affect them according to our purposes (exercising managerial control). The chapter argues that evaluative control is a genuine form of agency, despite the fact that it is neither voluntary (in a certain, defined sense) nor does it involve awareness of the object controlled. In fact, it is argued that the fundamental form of agency could not be voluntary. The chapter ends by examining how the two kinds of agency work in tandem and how certain complex forms of ‘reflective’ agency can be decomposed into these two simpler kinds.

Keywords: agency; mental agency; control; belief; intention; voluntary; reflective awareness

Chapter.  14743 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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