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Action, Knowledge, and Will$
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John Hyman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198735779

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198735779.001.0001

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Agency and the Will

Agency and the Will

(p.xiv) (p.1) 1 Agency and the Will
Action, Knowledge, and Will

John Hyman

Oxford University Press

Human action has four irreducibly different dimensions, which we think about by means of four tightly knit families of concepts: a physical dimension, in which the principal concepts are those of agent, power, and causation; an ethical dimension, in which they are voluntariness and choice; a psychological dimension, with the concepts of desire, aim, and intention; and an intellectual dimension, with the concepts of reason, knowledge, and belief. Together with the Appendix, this introductory chapter reviews the history of the modern theory of the will from Descartes to Mill, the early dissent from it in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Wittgenstein’s and Ryle’s attack on it, and its incomplete demise. The distinction between agency and voluntariness is explained, and the consequences of ignoring or denying the distinction are explored.

Keywords:   will, agency, voluntariness, volition, Wittgenstein, Ryle

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