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The contours of control

Philosophical Studies 170 (3):395-411 (2014)

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  1. Extended Control Systems: A Theory and its Implications.Hunter R. Gentry - 2021 - Philosophical Psychology 34 (3):345-373.
    Philosophers and cognitive scientists alike have recently been interested in whether cognition extends beyond the boundaries of skin and skull and into the environment. However, the extended cognition hypothesis has suffered many objections over the past few decades. In this paper, I explore the option of control extending beyond the human boundary. My aim is to convince the reader of three things: (i) that control can be implemented in artifacts, (ii) that humans and artifacts can form extended control systems, and (...)
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  • Intentions and Motor Representations: The Interface Challenge.Myrto Mylopoulos & Elisabeth Pacherie - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (2):317-336.
    A full account of purposive action must appeal not only to propositional attitude states like beliefs, desires, and intentions, but also to motor representations, i.e., non-propositional states that are thought to represent, among other things, action outcomes as well as detailed kinematic features of bodily movements. This raises the puzzle of how it is that these two distinct types of state successfully coordinate. We examine this so-called “Interface Problem”. First, we clarify and expand on the nature and role of motor (...)
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  • Experts and Deviants: The Story of Agentive Control.Wayne Wu - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):101-26.
    This essay argues that current theories of action fail to explain agentive control because they have left out a psychological capacity central to control: attention. This makes it impossible to give a complete account of the mental antecedents that generate action. By investigating attention, and in particular the intention-attention nexus, we can characterize the functional role of intention in an illuminating way, explicate agentive control so that we have a uniform explanation of basic cases of causal deviance in action as (...)
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  • Skilled Guidance.Denis Buehler - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (3):641-667.
    Skilled action typically requires that individuals guide their activities toward some goal. In skilled action, individuals do so excellently. We do not understand well what this capacity to guide consists in. In this paper I provide a case study of how individuals shift visual attention. Their capacity to guide visual attention toward some goal consists in an empirically discovered sub-system – the executive system. I argue that we can explain how individuals guide by appealing to the operation of this sub-system. (...)
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  • Deciding as Intentional Action: Control Over Decisions.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2):335-351.
    Common-sense folk psychology and mainstream philosophy of action agree about decisions: these are under an agent's direct control, and are thus intentional actions for which agents can be held responsible. I begin this paper by presenting a problem for this view. In short, since the content of the motivational attitudes that drive deliberation and decision remains open-ended until the moment of decision, it is unclear how agents can be thought to exercise control over what they decide at the moment of (...)
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  • Do We Reflect While Performing Skillful Actions? Automaticity, Control, and the Perils of Distraction.Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (7):896-924.
    From our everyday commuting to the gold medalist’s world-class performance, skillful actions are characterized by fine-grained, online agentive control. What is the proper explanation of such control? There are two traditional candidates: intellectualism explains skillful agentive control by reference to the agent’s propositional mental states; anti-intellectualism holds that propositional mental states or reflective processes are unnecessary since skillful action is fully accounted for by automatic coping processes. I examine the evidence for three psychological phenomena recently held to support anti-intellectualism and (...)
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  • Review of The Shape of Agency. [REVIEW]Carlotta Pavese - forthcoming - Mind.
    What makes an event an action rather than a mere happening? What makes us agents rather than non-agents? What does being in control amount to? And in virtue of what are our actions skilled? These are among the deepest and hardest questions in the philosophy of action. They are also particularly timely, as the field is revisiting them both in connection with a study of intentional action and with a renewed interest in skilled action. In The Shape of Agency, Joshua (...)
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  • Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action.Michael Brent - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):656-673.
    My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories of (...)
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  • Exploring the Orthogonal Relationship Between Controlled and Automated Processes in Skilled Action.John Toner & Aidan Moran - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (3):577-593.
    Traditional models of skill learning posit that skilled action unfolds in an automatic manner and that control will prove deleterious to movement and performance proficiency. These perspectives assume that automated processes are characterised by low levels of control and vice versa. By contrast, a number of authors have recently put forward hybrid theories of skilled action which have sought to capture the close integration between fine-grained automatic motor routines and intentional states. Drawing heavily on the work of Bebko et al. (...)
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  • Control and Ownership of Neuroprosthetic Speech.Hannah Maslen & Stephen Rainey - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology 34 (3):425-445.
    Implantable brain-computer interfaces are being developed to restore speech capacity for those who are unable to speak. Patients with locked-in syndrome or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis could be able to use covert speech – vividly imagining saying something without actual vocalisation – to trigger neural controlled systems capable of synthesising speech. User control has been identified as particularly pressing for this type of BCI. The incorporation of machine learning and statistical language models into the decoding process introduces a contribution to the (...)
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  • Knowledge and Mentality.Carlotta Pavese - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    This paper reexamines the case for mentality—the thesis that knowledge is a mental state in its own right, and not only derivatively, simply by virtue of being composed out of mental states or by virtue of being a property of mental states — and explores a novel argument for it. I argue that a certain property singled out by psychologists and philosophers of cognitive science as distinctive of skillful behavior (agentive control) is best understood in terms of knowledge. While psychological (...)
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  • Consciousness and Moral Responsibility: Skeptical Challenges and Theological Reflections.Aku Olavi Visala - 2021 - Zygon 56 (3):641-665.
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  • A Predictive Processing Theory of Motivation.Alex James Miller Tate - 2019 - Synthese 198 (5):4493-4521.
    In this paper I propose minimal criteria for a successful theory of the mechanisms of motivation, and argue that extant philosophical accounts fail to meet them. Further, I argue that a predictive processing framework gives us the theoretical power to meet these criteria, and thus ought to be preferred over existing theories. The argument proceeds as follows—motivational mental states are generally understood as mental states with the power to initiate, guide, and control action, though few existing theories of motivation explicitly (...)
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  • Anti-Intellectualist Motor Knowledge.Gabriele Ferretti - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10733-10763.
    Intellectualists suggest that practical knowledge, or ‘knowing- how’, can be reduced to propositional knowledge, or ‘knowing-that’. Anti-intellectualists, on the contrary, suggest, following the original insights by Ryle, that such a reduction is not possible. Rejection of intellectualism can be proposed either by offering purely philosophical analytical arguments, or by recruiting empirical evidence from cognitive science about the nature of the mental representations involved in these two forms of knowledge. In this paper, I couple these two strategies in order to analyze (...)
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  • Mental Action.Antonia Peacocke - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (6):e12741.
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  • Agential Capacities: A Capacity to Guide.Denis Buehler - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    In paradigm exercises of agency, individuals guide their activities toward some goal. A central challenge for action theory is to explain how individuals guide. This challenge is an instance of the more general problem of how to accommodate individuals and their actions in the natural world, as explained by natural science. Two dominant traditions–primitivism and the causal theory–fail to address the challenge in a satisfying way. Causal theorists appeal to causation by an intention, through a feedback mechanism, in explaining guidance. (...)
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  • First-person representations and responsible agency in AI.Miguel Ángel Sebastián & Fernando Rudy-Hiller - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    In this paper I investigate which of the main conditions proposed in the moral responsibility literature are the ones that spell trouble for the idea that Artificial Intelligence Systems could ever be full-fledged responsible agents. After arguing that the standard construals of the control and epistemic conditions don’t impose any in-principle barrier to AISs being responsible agents, I identify the requirement that responsible agents must be aware of their own actions as the main locus of resistance to attribute that kind (...)
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  • Flexible Occurrent Control.Denis Buehler - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (8):2119-2137.
    There has recently been much interest in the role of attention in controlling action. The role has been mischaracterized as an element in necessary and sufficient conditions on agential control. In this paper I attempt a new characterization of the role. I argue that we need to understand attentional control in order to fully understand agential control. To fully understand agential control we must understand paradigm exercises of agential control. Three important accounts of agential control—intentional, reflective, and goal-represented control—do not (...)
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  • The Foundations of Agency – and Ethics?Olof Leffler - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):547-563.
    In this article, I take off from some central issues in Paul Katsafanas’ recent book Agency and the Foundations of Ethics. I argue that Katsafanas’ alleged aims of action fail to do the work he requires them to do. First, his approach to activity or control is deeply problematic in the light of counterexamples. More importantly, the view of activity or control he needs to get his argument going is most likely false, as it requires our values to do work (...)
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  • Conscious Control Over Action.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (3):320-344.
    The extensive involvement of nonconscious processes in human behaviour has led some to suggest that consciousness is much less important for the control of action than we might think. In this article I push against this trend, developing an understanding of conscious control that is sensitive to our best models of overt action control. Further, I assess the cogency of various zombie challenges—challenges that seek to demote the importance of conscious control for human agency. I argue that though nonconscious contributions (...)
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  • Moral Luck and Control.Steven D. Hales - 2019 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1):42-58.
    There is no such thing as moral luck or everyone is profoundly mistaken about its nature and a radical rethinking of moral luck is needed. The argument to be developed is not complicated, and relies almost entirely on premises that should seem obviously correct to anyone who follows the moral luck literature. The conclusion, however, is surprising and disturbing. The classic cases of moral luck always involve an agent who lacks control over an event whose occurrence affects her praiseworthiness or (...)
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  • From Freedom From to Freedom To: New Perspectives on Intentional Action.Sofia Bonicalzi & Patrick Haggard - 2019 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.
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  • Scientific Challenges to Free Will and Moral Responsibility.Joshua Shepherd - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (3):197-207.
    Here, I review work from three lines of research in cognitive science often taken to threaten free will and moral responsibility. This work concerns conscious deciding, the experience of acting, and the role of largely unnoticed situational influences on behavior. Whether this work in fact threatens free will and moral responsibility depends on how we ought to interpret it, and depends as well on the nature of free and responsible behavior. I discuss different ways this work has been interpreted and (...)
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  • Through the Forest of Motor Representations.Gabriele Ferretti - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 43:177-196.
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  • Longer, Smaller, Faster, Stronger: On Skills and Intelligence.Ellen Fridland - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (5):759-783.
    ABSTRACTHow does practice change our behaviors such that they go from being awkward, unskilled actions to elegant, skilled performances? This is the question that I wish to explore in this paper. In the first section of the paper, I will defend the tight connection between practice and skill and then go on to make precise how we ought to construe the concept of practice. In the second section, I will suggest that practice contributes to skill by structuring and automatizing the (...)
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  • The Mechanistic and Normative Structure of Agency.Jason Winning - 2019 - Dissertation, University of California San Diego
    I develop an interdisciplinary framework for understanding the nature of agents and agency that is compatible with recent developments in the metaphysics of science and that also does justice to the mechanistic and normative characteristics of agents and agency as they are understood in moral philosophy, social psychology, neuroscience, robotics, and economics. The framework I develop is internal perspectivalist. That is to say, it counts agents as real in a perspective-dependent way, but not in a way that depends on an (...)
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  • Remembering as a Mental Action.Santiago Arango-Munoz & Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2018 - In Kourken Michaelian, Dorothea Debus & Denis Perrin (eds.), New Directions in the Philosophy of Memory. Routledge. pp. 75-96.
    Many philosophers consider that memory is just a passive information retention and retrieval capacity. Some information and experiences are encoded, stored, and subsequently retrieved in a passive way, without any control or intervention on the subject’s part. In this paper, we will defend an active account of memory according to which remembering is a mental action and not merely a passive mental event. According to the reconstructive account, memory is an imaginative reconstruction of past experience. A key feature of the (...)
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  • Animal Mental Action: Planning Among Chimpanzees.Angelica Kaufmann - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (4):745-760.
    I offer an argument for what mental action may be like in nonhuman animals. Action planning is a type of mental action that involves a type of intention. Some intentions are the causal mental antecedents of proximal mental actions, and some intentions are the causal mental antecedents of distal mental actions. The distinction between these two types of “plan-states” is often spelled out in terms of mental content. The prominent view is that while proximal mental actions are caused by mental (...)
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