Action’s First Constitutive Aim: Agential Activity

Paul Katsafanas

in Agency and the Foundations of Ethics

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780199645077
Published online May 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191751912 | DOI:
Action’s First Constitutive Aim: Agential Activity

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This chapter argues that action constitutively aims at agential activity. But what is agential activity? According to standard accounts, agential activity is associated with deliberative or reflective activity. The chapter argues on philosophical and empirical grounds that the active/passive distinction has nothing to do with whether the action was brought about in a reflective or deliberative manner. The chapter defends a new account of agential activity, according to which an agent is active in the production of her action iff two conditions are met: (i) the agent approves of her action, and (ii) further knowledge of the motives figuring in the etiology of this action would not undermine her approval of the action. By drawing on a psychologically realistic account of motivation and agency, we can show that agents constitutively aim at this form of agential activity.

Keywords: action; agency; active; passive; activity; motivation; motive; deliberation; reflection; constitutivism

Chapter.  19819 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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