Chapter

The Conditions of Agency

Christian List and Philip Pettit

in Group Agency

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199591565
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725494 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199591565.003.0002
The Conditions of Agency

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This chapter introduces the conditions a system must meet to count as an agent. At a basic level, a system is an agent if it acts so as to satisfy its desires in accordance with its beliefs, where these are attitudes that have propositions as contents. Such a system is rational if its attitudes and actions meet certain desiderata of consistency and effectiveness. It is capable of reasoning if it can raise questions about the relations among propositions, and between propositions and evidence; form beliefs about those relations; and is disposed to let these beliefs serve as checks on its own rationality. The chapter argues that there is no reason why a group of people might not constitute a system that counts as an agent. A group might do so non-intentionally but the focus of the book is on intentionally formed group agents.

Keywords: agent; representation; motivation; belief; desire; proposition; rationality; reasoning; intentionality; intentional stance; intentional attitudes

Chapter.  11605 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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