alicia juarrero dynamics in action

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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

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

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

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

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"

Lock-In Implications Stability Fail-Safe versus Safe-Fail The Payoff: Novelty, Creativity--and Individuality NOTES REFERENCES INDEX


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



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 e