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Dynamics in Action: Intentional Behavior as a Complex System
What is the difference between a wink and a blink? The answer isimportant not only to philosophers of mind, for significant moral and legalconsequences rest on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary behavior.However, "action theory"--the branch of philosophy that has traditionallyarticulated the boundaries between action and non-action, and between voluntary andinvoluntary behavior--has been unable to account for the difference.Alicia Juarreroargues that a mistaken, 350-year-old model of cause and explanation--one that takesall causes to be of the push-pull, efficient cause sort, and all explanation to beprooflike--underlies contemporary theories of action. Juarrero then proposes a newframework for conceptualizing causes based on complex adaptive systems. Thinking ofcauses as dynamical constraints makes bottom-up and top-down causal relations, including those involving intentional causes, suddenly tractable. A different logicfor explaining actions--as historical narrative, not inference--follows if oneadopts this novel approach to long-standing questions of action andresponsibility.