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Causal CognitionA Multidisciplinary Debate$
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Dan Sperber, David Premack, and Ann James Premack

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198524021

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.001.0001

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A theory of agency

A theory of agency

Chapter:
(p.121) 5 A theory of agency
Source:
Causal Cognition
Author(s):

Alan M. Leslie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524021.003.0005

This chapter outlines a ‘tri-partite’ theory of the core understanding of agency. The concept of agency is divided into three hierarchically ordered subtheories, each of which activates the other, and deals with agency on an increasingly internal level. The first, dealing with outward mechanical properties, pivots on the concept of force and stresses that agents have internal and renewable sources of force. The second deals with actional properties, in which agents are not merely internally motivated self-propelled systems; they also perceive the environment, pursue goals, and interact with one another. Lastly, the behaviour of agents is determined by cognitive properties, which represent their propositional relations to information with a meta-representation data structure that is specific to this subsystem.

Keywords:   agency, mechanical properties, agents, force, actional properties, behaviour, cognitive properties

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