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ReasoningNew Essays on Theoretical and Practical Thinking$
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Magdalena Balcerak Jackson and Brendan Balcerak Jackson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198791478.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 29 November 2021

Is Reasoning a Form of Agency?

Is Reasoning a Form of Agency?

(p.91) 6 Is Reasoning a Form of Agency?

Mark Richard

Oxford University Press

On the one hand, we hold reasoners responsible for their conclusions, and responsibility is usually taken to be a mark of agency. On the other hand, much reasoning seems to be subpersonal, something that it is implausible that we “do.” One can be responsible for something even if it’s not the result of one’s direct or indirect agency—so, at least, this chapter argues. So, responsibility for inference doesn’t show that inference is not by and large a matter of quick, more or less automatic processes that we may review but not directly control. This runs counter to the idea that essential to inference is that an agent take one thing to follow from some others. Careful consideration of humdrum inference, the chapter argues, shows that there’s little reason to endorse the taking requirement. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of how far down in phylogenesis or ontogenesis one might find processes that deserve to be called reasoning.

Keywords:   inference, agency, taking criterion, subpersonal processes, rule following

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