Alicia Juarrero Dynamics in Action

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<p>&lt; BACK</p> <p>Dynamics in ActionIntentional Behavior as a Complex System Alicia Juarrero ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ABBREVIATIONS INTRODUCTION PART I WHY ACTION THEORY RESTS ON A MISTAKE Chapter 1 How the Modern Understanding of Cause Came to Be The Mechanistic Causes of Newtonian Science November 1999 ISBN 0-262-10081-9 6 x 9, 300 pp., 7 illus. $67.50/43.95 (CLOTH) SALE! $ 3 3 . 7 5 / 2 1 . 9 5 *ADD TO CART Other Editions Paper ( 2 0 0 2 ) Series B r a d f o r d Books Related Links Table of Contents</p> <p>Chapter 2 Causal Theories of Action Agent Causation Causal Theories of Action Alvin Goldman Volitionists Logical Connections and Causality Chapter 3 Action and the Modern Understanding of Explanation Aristotelian Science and Practical Wisdom Kantian Teleology David Hume Explanation Is Deduction Behaviorism Chapter 4 Action as Lawful Regularities Performative Theories of Action Action as Rule-Governed Behavior A. I. Melden Action as Plastic and Persistent Behavior Where Are We? Chapter 5 Action and Reductive Accounts of Purposiveness Behaviorist Reductions of Teleology Charles Taylor L. Wright The End of Behaviorism Chapter 6 Information Theory and the Problem of Action Information Theory: A Brief Introduction Noise and Equivocation Cause versus Information</p> <p>Basic Actions and Neurological Activity: The Communications Channel The Agent's Privileged Access Act Individuation Action and the Flow of Information Information as Cause: Another Argument against Davidson Disadvantages of an Information-Theoretic Account How Is the Pool of Alternatives (n) Established? Meaningful Information PART II DYNAMICAL SYSTEMS THEORY AND HUMAN ACTION Chapter 7 Some New Vocabulary: A Primer on Systems Theory Recapitulation Thermodynamics Evolution Systems Theory Aggregates versus Systems Resilience and Stability Facultative and Obligate Systems Allopoiesis versus Autopoiesis Concrete versus Property Systems Process, Functional, and Information Systems Hierarchical Systems Decomposable Systems Structural and Control Hierarchies Nearly Decomposable Systems Entrainment Near Equilibrium and Far From Equilibrium Chapter 8 Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics Nonequilibrium Thermodynamics Autocatalysis Functional Differentiation Identity of Self-Organizing Processes Formal Cause Final Cause Self-Organization and Teleology Interlevel Causality Systemism versus Holism</p> <p>Information-Theoretical Constraints Context-Free Constraints Thermodynamic Embodiments of Context-Free Constraints Context-Sensitive Constraints Constraints and Complexity Context-Sensitive Constraints in Nature First- and Second-Order Contextual Constraints Bottom-Up Enabling Constraints Top-Down as Selective Constraints Nature's Own Jekyll and Hyde Objection Evidence from Biology Evidence from Neurology Auditory Perception Olfactory Perception Visual Perception Summary Chapter 10 Dynamical Constraints as Landscapes: Meaning and Behavior as Topology Recapitulation Picturing Dynamical Systems Attractors Complex, Chaotic, or Strange Attractors Ontogenetic Landscapes Evidence from Developmental Studies Bifurcations as Catastrophes Summary Chapter 11 Embodied Meaning Evidence from Neural Networks Coarse Coding Embodied Meaning Recurrent Networks A Walk through Semantic Space Objections Summary Chapter 12 Intentional Action: A Dynamical Account Recapitulation A Plausible Scenario for Action</p> <p>Awareness of the Consequences of Alternatives in the Contrast Set Proximate Intention Semantic Cleanup Units and Action The Problem of Wayward Causal Chains Resolved Multiple Realizability and Equivocation: An Objection Summary Chapter 13 Threading an Agent's Control Loop through the Environment Recapitulation Intentions Are Meanings in the Head Intentions "Ain't Just in the Head" Either Running the Control Loop through the Environment Explicit Intentions and Basic Actions Proximate Intentions Intend A but not Explicitly A Intend to (Basic Act) A and (Generated) A but Do Not Intend to A Explicitly Intending Generated Event A (but Not A or A) What Did the Agent "Mean" to Do? Does "I Intend to A" Imply "I Believe I Will A"? Social Skills Examples Summary PART III EXPLAINING HUMAN ACTION: WHY DYNAMICS TELL US THAT STORIES ARE NECESSARY Chapter 14 Narrative Explanation and the Dynamics of Action Recapitulation Explanation as Unfolding Explaining Self-Organizing Systems through Hermeneutics Within Stable States Reconstructing the Origin Reconstructing the Behavior's Trajectory Summary Across Phase Changes David Lewis's Logic of Explanation The Explainer Implications for Jurisprudence The Explanation's Own "Small World"</p> <p>Lock-In Implications Stability Fail-Safe versus Safe-Fail The Payoff: Novelty, Creativity--and Individuality NOTES REFERENCES INDEX</p> <p>Introduction</p> <p>What is the difference between a wink and a blink? Knowing one from the other is importantand not only for philosophers of mind. Significant moral and legal consequences rest on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary behavior. Jurors, for example, report that deciding whether the accused caused someone's death is relatively easy. They find it much more difficult, on the other hand, to determine "what class of offenseif anyhad been committed" (Hacker 1995, 44). At Supreme Court hearings on the subject of physician-assisted suicide, the discussion turned on the same issue. Suppose a doctor administers a large dose of barbiturates to a patient in pain. The patient slips into a coma and dies. Was it first- or second-degree murder, or accidental homicide? Walter Dellinger, acting Solicitor General, testified at those hearings that "so long as the physician's intent was to relieve pain and not cause death," the behavior was not unlawful. As Anthony Lewis, writing in the New York Times (January 1997), noted of the debate, "Everything turned on the shadowy question of intent." Our judgments concerning moral responsibility and legal liability will be very different, therefore, depending on how we answer the question, "Was it a wink or a blink?" And yet that is precisely the problem: gauging intent in order to establish what the accused did so that jurors as well as the rest of us can then discriminate among degrees of responsibility. We are not responsible and cannot be held accountable for blinking. And rightly so. We think of blinks, unlike winks, as behavior that we do not intend and cannot controlsomething that "happens to us," a reflex reaction in which we are passive. Winking, on the other hand, is something we "do" (in some unclear sense of "we" that identifies us as agents). Only intentional behavior qualifies as moral or immoral; reflexes are amoral. But what marks off intentional actions from unintentional, accidental or reflex behavior? How do agents (as opposed to their bodies?) do things? And how do we tell? The branch of philosophy called "action theory" has traditionally been charged with articulating necessary and sufficient conditions marking the</p> <p>2</p> <p>Introduction</p> <p>boundary between action and nonaction, as well as between voluntary and involuntary behavior. The philosophical issues with which action theory is concerned include such topics as the concepts of agency and free will, the relationship between awareness and behavior, and the role that reasons play in causing and explaining actions. Understanding these has required weaving together topics culled from such disparate disciplines as epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind and, more recently, neurology and even genetics. Although not labeled as such until after World War II, the concerns of action theory go as far back as the ancient Greeks. In Plato's dialogue Phaedo, which takes place while Socrates is awaiting execution, Socrates worries that earlier philosophers made air, ether, and water the only causes. What about Socrates's reasons for not escaping from prison? Are they not the true cause of his behavior? Later, and more systematically, Aristotle examined the difference between intentional and involuntary behavior. An adequate explanation of anything, he claimed, must identify those causes responsible for the phenomenon being explained. Aristotle's four causes are final cause (the goal or purpose toward which something aims), formal cause (that which makes anything that sort of thing and no other1), material cause (the stuff out of which it is made), and efficient cause (the force that brings the thing into being). Explaining anything, including behavior, requires identifying the role that each cause plays in bringing about the phenomenon. Implicit in Aristotle's account of cause and crucially influential in the history of action theory, however, is another of Aristotle's claims: that nothing, strictly speaking, can move, cause, or act on itself in the same respect. This principle has remained unchallenged throughout the history of philosophy and, as we shall see, has caused many problems for the theory of action. Because he had more than one type of cause to draw on, Aristotle was able to explain voluntary self-motion in terms of a peculiar combination of causes. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, modern philosophy had discarded two of those causes, final and formal. As a result, purposive, goal-seeking and formal, structuring causes no longer even qualified as causal; philosophy restricted its understanding of causality to efficient cause. And then, taking its cue from Newtonian science, modern philosophy conceptualized efficient causality as the push-pull impact of external forces on inert matter. This mechanistic understanding of cause, too, has had serious consequences for action theory, particularly when combined with the principle philosophy did retain: Aristotle's thesis that nothing moves itself. Aristotle had insisted that formal deduction from universal premises is the logic of reasoning proper to science (episteme). Because human behavior is temporally and contextually embedded, on the other hand, it is</p> <p>Introduction</p> <p>3</p> <p>the central concern of practical wisdom (phronesis). Because of its subject matter and unlike deduction, therefore, wisdom varies "as the occasion requires." In contrast, modern philosophy also brought with it a particular understanding of the logic of explanation: the principle that (ideally) all explanation is fundamentally deductive in form. Following Hume and in opposition to Aristotle, as Stephen Toulmin (1990) has pointed out, philosophers concluded that deduction from timeless and contextless laws is the ideal, not only of science, but of any legitimate form of reasoning. A law of natureat worst statistical, but ideally strictly deterministic combined with statements specifying initial conditions must allow that which is being explained (the explanandwn) to be inferred. Even human actions must be explained in that manner. By the middle of the twentieth century, the principle that the logic of any serious explanation must adhere to such a "covering-law model" was the received view. Understanding all cause as collision-like, and the explanatory ideal as deduction from deterministic laws, are two examples of a trend that has characterized the history of philosophy for over two thousand years: the progressive elimination of time and context from metaphysics and epistemology. Since time and context play a central role in all living things, including human beings and their behavior, action theory is thus an excellent prism that refracts and separates two key problems in the history of Western philosophycause and explanationand lays bare the role that time and context play in each. The first claim of this book is that an inadequate, 350-year-old model of cause and explanation underlies contemporary theories of action. In addition to a brief history of the concepts of cause and explanation, Part I consists of a detailed analysis of the major warhorses of contemporary action theory with a view to demonstrating that action theory rests on these two mistaken views of cause and explanation. Chapters 1 and 2 examine the modern understanding of cause and the problems it has occasioned for action theory. In those chapters I survey major contemporary causal theories of action, all of which have consistently adhered to Aristotle's principle that nothing moves or changes itself; intentions, volitions, and other alleged causes of action are supposed to be other than the behavior they cause. In addition, by subscribing to a Newtonian understanding of efficient cause as well, these theories have also uncritically assumed that intentions, volitions, or agents cause action in the collisionlike way that cue sticks cause cue balls to move. As a result of these two unexamined presuppositions, causal theories have been plagued by characteristic and recurrent objections. Most of the action theory literature of the past four decades has consisted of repeated attempts to mitigate or circumvent these objections, not recognizing that they will persist until action theory abandons this mechanistic view of cause.</p> <p>4</p> <p>Introduction</p> <p>Next, I examine the problems that the received view of explanation has created for action theory. Chapter 3 surveys the history of the coveringlaw approach to rationality and explanation. Chapter 4 examines how this explanatory framework, in the guise of logical behaviorism, makes an appearance in the theory of action. Behaviorist analyses have tried to reduce the flexibility and appropriateness characteristic of human action to stimulus-response patterns. Motivating such attempted reductions has been the desire to make human behavior explicable by rendering it scientific, that is, tractable by the received view of explanation as deduction. Given modern philosophy's elimination of final cause from its metaphysical framework, even those theorists who recognized the obvious goaldirectedness of action tried to do the same. Teleology, too, therefore, was analyzed away as nothing but the lawful regularity of stimulus-response patterns. Chapter 5 chronicles the attempted reduction of purposiveness to behaviorist patterns of stimulus-response. Modern philosophy's understanding of cause and explanation has failed as a general theory. Today there is no reason to continue to subscribe to this atemporal and acontextual approach. By the nineteenth century, two major challenges to the modern conceptual framework had already appeared. First, the inexorable increase in entropy postulated by the second law of thermodynamics seemed to return temporal direction to physics by identifying a universal and irreversible arrow of time: everything moves from order to disorder. On the face of it, however, biology contradicts the second law. Whence the increasing complexity so much in evidence in biological development and evolution? What went largely unrecognized until recently was the fact that the classical thermodynamics of the nineteenth century treats all systems as if they are closed, isolated, and near equilibriumwhich liv...</p>