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Michael Brent
University of Denver
  1. Meditation and the Scope of Mental Action.Michael Brent & Candace Upton - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (1):52-71.
    While philosophers of mind have devoted abundant time and attention to questions of content and consciousness, philosophical questions about the nature and scope of mental action have been relatively neglected. Galen Strawson’s account of mental action, arguably the most well-known extant account, holds that cognitive mental action consists in triggering the delivery of content to one’s field of consciousness. However, Strawson fails to recognize several distinct types of mental action that might not reduce to triggering content delivery. In this paper, (...)
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  2. 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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  3.  61
    Rational and Social Agency: The Philosophy of Michael Bratman, Edited by Manuel Vargas and Gideon Yaffe.Michael Brent - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):371-374.
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    Confessions of a Deluded Westerner.Michael Brent - 2018 - Journal of Buddhist Ethics 25:689-713.
    In this paper, I aim to make two general points. First, I claim that the discussions in Repetti (2017) assume different, sometimes conflicting, notions of free will, so the guiding question of the book is not as clear as it could be. Second, according to Buddhist tradition, the path to enlightenment requires rejecting the delusional belief in the existence of a persisting self. I claim that if there is no persisting self, there are no intentional actions; and, if there are (...)
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  5.  26
    Effort and the Standard Story of Action.Michael Brent - 2012 - Philosophical Writings 40:19 - 27.
    In this paper, I present an alternative account of action that improves upon what has come to be known as the standard story. The standard story depicts actions as events that are caused by and made intelligible through the appropriate combinations of the agent’s beliefs, desires, decisions, intentions and other motivational factors. I argue that the standard story is problematic because it depicts the relation between the agent and their bodily actions as causally mediated by their motivational factors. On the (...)
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  6. Understanding Strength of Will.Michael Brent - 2014 - In Fabio Bacchini Massimo Dell'Utri & Stefano Caputo (eds.), New Advances in Causation, Agency, and Moral Responsibility. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 165-178.
    Richard Holton has presented an important criticism of two prominent accounts of action, a criticism that employs a notion of strength of will. Holton claims that these well-known accounts of action cannot explain cases in which an agent adheres to the dictates of a previous resolution in spite of a persistent desire to the contrary. In this chapter, I present an explanation and defense of Holton’s criticism of these accounts of action, and then I argue that while Holton highlights a (...)
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