Motivation and Agency

Motivation and Agency

Motivation and Agency

Motivation and Agency

Synopsis

What place does motivation have in the lives of intelligent agents? Mele's answer is sensitive to the concerns of philosophers of mind and moral philosophers and informed by empirical work. He offers a distinctive, comprehensive, attractive view of human agency. This book stands boldly at the intersection of philosophy of mind, moral philosophy, and metaphysics.

Excerpt

Although philosophers of mind and action share a serious interest with moral philosophers in some deep and exciting philosophical topics, the level of cross fertilization is not nearly as high as I think it should be. One such topic is motivation; another is human agency. They are the topics of this book. What I seek are answers to a web of questions about motivation and human agency that take into account important work in the philosophy of mind and action and moral philosophy, as well as some relevant empirical work in such fields as the psychology of motivation, social psychology, physiological psychology, and neurobiology. The questions include the following: Will an acceptable moral theory make warranted conceptual or metaphysical demands (of a kind to be identified) on a theory of human motivation? Where does the motivational power of practical reasoning lie? How are reasons for action related to motivation? What do motivational explanations of different kinds have in common? What is it to decide to do something? What is it for an attitude essentially to encompass motivation to act? What is it for one such attitude to have more motivational force or strength than another? What room will an acceptable view of the connection between motivational strength and intentional action leave for selfcontrolled agency? Is it likely that a proper account of motivated, goal-directed action will be a causal account? Can a causal perspective on the nature and explanation of action accommodate human agency par excellence? What emerges from my answers is a view of human agency.

Work on this book was supported by a 1999–2000 NEH Fellowship for College Teachers while I was still a member of the faculty of Davidson College, a place whose charms are unforgettable. Some of the work was done while I was a visiting fellow in the Philosophy Program (June through August 1999) in the Research School of Social . . .

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