Chapter

Animal Agency

Helen Steward

in A Metaphysics for Freedom

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199552054
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738838 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552054.003.0004
Animal Agency

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This chapter considers animal agency. Using the work of developmental psychologists, it is argued that agency is a highly robust and distinctive concept that ought to be accorded a central role in our basic categorization of entities—a role which has not generally been properly recognized for what it is. The concept of agency is an outgrowth, it is suggested, of the concept of animacy—and it is argued that the concept applies unproblematically to many animals. The absence of the concept of an agent from most accounts of folk psychology is discussed and criticized, and Nichols’ work on the idea that the concept of agent causation might be part of our basic cognitive endowment is considered. The difficult question of how it is to be decided which animals are to be accounted agents, and why, is tackled, making use of some aspects of Dennett’s work on the intentional stance

Keywords: animals; agency; folk psychology; Nichols; agent causation; Dennett; intentional stance

Chapter.  25863 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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