Active Inference and the Primacy of the ‘I Can’

Philosophy and Predictive Processing (2017)
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Abstract
This paper deals with the question of agency and intentionality in the context of the free-energy principle. The free-energy principle is a system-theoretic framework for understanding living self-organizing systems and how they relate to their environments. I will first sketch the main philosophical positions in the literature: a rationalist Helmholtzian interpretation (Hohwy 2013; Clark 2013), a cybernetic interpretation (Seth 2015b) and the enactive affordance-based interpretation (Bruineberg and Rietveld 2014; Bruineberg et al. 2016) and will then show how agency and intentionality are construed differently on these different philosophical interpretations. I will then argue that a purely Helmholtzian is limited, in that it can account only account for agency in the context of perceptual inference. The cybernetic account cannot give a full account of action, since purposiveness is accounted for only to the extent that it pertains to the control of homeostatic essential variables. I will then argue that the enactive affordance-based account attempts to provide broader account of purposive action without presupposing goals and intentions coming from outside of the theory. In the second part of the paper, I will discuss how each of these three interpretations conceives of the sense agency and intentionality in different ways.
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Archival date: 2017-10-05
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2017-08-23

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