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Beyond persons: extending the personal / subpersonal distinction to non-rational animals and artificial agents

Beyond persons: extending the personal / subpersonal distinction to non-rational animals and artificial agents
Beyond persons: extending the personal / subpersonal distinction to non-rational animals and artificial agents
The distinction between personal level explanations and subpersonal ones has been subject to much debate in philosophy. We understand it as one between explanations that focus on an agent’s interaction with its environment, and explanations that focus on the physical or computational enabling conditions of such an interaction. The distinction, understood this way, is necessary for a complete account of any agent, rational or not, biological or artificial. In particular, we review some recent research in Artificial Life that pretends to do completely without the distinction, while using agent-centered concepts all the way. It is argued that the rejection of agent level explanations in favour of mechanistic ones is due to an unmotivated need to choose among representationalism and eliminativism. The dilemma is a false one if the possibility of a radical form of externalism is considered.
agents, artificial life, category errors, externalism, eliminativism, levels of explanation, mechanism, philosophy of mind, representationalism
0169-3867
87-100
de Pinedo, Manuel
7a9d3eb0-6ee4-4207-964c-08f77c940676
Noble, Jason
440f07ba-dbb8-4d66-b969-36cde4e3b764
de Pinedo, Manuel
7a9d3eb0-6ee4-4207-964c-08f77c940676
Noble, Jason
440f07ba-dbb8-4d66-b969-36cde4e3b764

de Pinedo, Manuel and Noble, Jason (2008) Beyond persons: extending the personal / subpersonal distinction to non-rational animals and artificial agents. Biology & Philosophy, 23 (1), 87-100. (doi:10.1007/s10539-007-9077-7).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The distinction between personal level explanations and subpersonal ones has been subject to much debate in philosophy. We understand it as one between explanations that focus on an agent’s interaction with its environment, and explanations that focus on the physical or computational enabling conditions of such an interaction. The distinction, understood this way, is necessary for a complete account of any agent, rational or not, biological or artificial. In particular, we review some recent research in Artificial Life that pretends to do completely without the distinction, while using agent-centered concepts all the way. It is argued that the rejection of agent level explanations in favour of mechanistic ones is due to an unmotivated need to choose among representationalism and eliminativism. The dilemma is a false one if the possibility of a radical form of externalism is considered.

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Published date: 1 January 2008
Keywords: agents, artificial life, category errors, externalism, eliminativism, levels of explanation, mechanism, philosophy of mind, representationalism
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 263479
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/263479
ISSN: 0169-3867
PURE UUID: 69e7d3eb-9e93-45f4-ac05-07a198951cd6

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Date deposited: 18 Feb 2007
Last modified: 25 Nov 2019 21:03

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Author: Manuel de Pinedo
Author: Jason Noble

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