Derek M. Jones, The biological foundations of action
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Recent decades have seen a rise of theories of human agency that acknowledge its biological roots. This development encompasses both the philosophy of biology and ‘classical’ analytic philosophy of mind and action—so far, however, in the form of two largely separate debates. Jones’ monograph on The Biological Foundations of Action is a most welcome contribution, as it engages with both of these debates.
The book’s main objective is to widen traditional action theory’s all-too-narrow focus on deliberative, intention-guided human agency in favour of a broad understanding of agency that incorporates, as Routledge’s book description puts it, “active behaviors that do not depend on intentions, including the ‘mindless’ actions of humans and the activities of non-human animals” (see also p. 4). The intended result is “a bottom-up approach” (p. xiv) that accounts for sophisticated forms of agency, such as deliberative human agency, on the basis of an account of simpler forms of agency, rather...