Dynamics of Agency: Automaticity, Intentionality, and Change

January 12, 2023 - January 13, 2023
University of Helsinki


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  • Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities


University of Virginia
University of California, Merced
University of Leeds
Carnegie Mellon University


University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki

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This workshop investigates the notion of dynamicity in philosophy of action.

Much of what is often considered part of agency stems from a variety of automatic and spontaneous processes. Metaphysical views that emphasize the dynamic, interactive nature of happenings have lately received greater attention in both philosophy of mind and metaphysics. This is particularly prominent among philosophers who think it important to engage with the findings of the empirical sciences. Can this work inform us on how agency arises in a living organism?

Dynamicity between spontaneous and intentional processes can be addressed on the neuropsychological level, on the level of practical reasoning, or in empirically informed philosophy of action. Further relevant perspectives can be provided by research on mental causation in philosophy of mind, on conscious volition and neuroscience, and on ideas about mind and agency in the foundations of quantum physics.

Our idea is to bring together people from various backgrounds working on philosophy of agency to answer questions such as: how should action theory account for the interplay between spontaneous and intentional processes? Does the notion of automaticity question traditional theories of action? Which kind of metaphysics of agency does the prevalence of spontaneous processes entail? Are metaphysical views that center on processes better at grasping dynamical notions than ontologies centering on events?

We welcome work on topics such as intentional mind-wandering, phenomenology of reading, philosophy of distraction, intentional omissions, the interplay between automatic and intentionally guided processes in skilled action, phenomenology of agency, the dynamicity between exploration and exploitation, the interplay of spontaneity in complex and hierarchical tasks, spontaneity in improvisation, and creative action.

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Who is attending?

4 people are attending:

Cambridge University
University of Southampton
and 2 more.

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