Philosophical Studies

, Volume 168, Issue 2, pp 545–568

Rationalizing flow: agency in skilled unreflective action


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-013-0143-5

Cite this article as:
Brownstein, M. Philos Stud (2014) 168: 545. doi:10.1007/s11098-013-0143-5


In recent work, Peter Railton, Julia Annas, and David Velleman aim to reconcile the phenomenon of “flow”—broadly understood as describing the “unreflective” aspect of skilled action—with one or another familiar conception of agency. While there are important differences between their arguments, Railton, Annas, and Velleman all make, or are committed to, at least one similar pivotal claim. Each argues, directly or indirectly, that agents who perform skilled unreflective actions can, in principle, accurately answer “Anscombean” questions—”what” and “why” questions— about what they do. I argue against this claim and explore the ramifications for theories of skilled action and agency.


Agency Skilled action Flow Expertise Nondeliberative action Self-awareness 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HumanitiesNew Jersey Institute of TechnologyNewarkUSA

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