Games and The Fluidity of Layered Agency

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In this paper, I use Thi Nguyen's analysis of striving games to sketch an outline of the structure of our agency at large. Following Nguyen, I argue that our agency is layered and fluid. Scarcity of deliberative resources and the need to coordinate multiple ends require us to introduce intermediate ends that are held temporarily fixed in guiding our conduct. This fixity is made possible by our ability to be absorbed in the pursuit of those intermediate ends as if they were final. We normally resist the temptation constantly to consider our practical circumstances outside of those pursuits, which would induce a constant reassessment of our plans. But the temporary single-mindedness of intermediate ends does not make us stubbornly inflexible. Our agency is fluid: we are able smoothly to switch in an out of various layers. I then show that there are two kinds of layers, horizontal segments and vertical strata, and 'leisure niches' where we can temporarily acquire disposable ends such as those of games. These niches allow for the sandboxing of ends, which can then be pursued in isolation from other enduring ends. I conclude with a discussion of the further complexity in layering required to account for the characteristic motivational inversion of striving games.
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First archival date: 2021-05-07
Latest version: 3 (2021-05-11)
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