2017順奕訪問學者講座 (2017 Wendy-Huang Lectures)第一場

講座
主題
主講人: 
Professor Jennifer Hornsby ( FBA / Birkbeck College, University of London / All Souls College, Oxford University)
主題: 
Cause and Causativity
時間與地點
時間: 
星期三, 十一月 1, 2017 - 15:30 - 17:30
地點: 
臺灣大學水源校區哲學系館
臺北市中正區思源街18號
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※ 臺大哲學系公告網址:
http://www.philo.ntu.edu.tw/ann/view.php?ID=1817
 
The metaphysics of agency
 
Professor Jennifer Hornsby, FBA
Birkbeck College, University of London
All Souls College, Oxford University
Email: j.hornsby@bbk.ac.uk
 
[Abstract] ― The metaphysics of agency
 
There is agency, one might say, when something does something. A something that does things—an agent—may be a person, a non-human animal, or an inanimate object. Things that may be done by something are many and various (exactly the range of do-able things evidently depends upon the sort of agent in question). In the course of these lectures I introduce, and attempt to answer, a variety of inter-related metaphysical questions that arise in connection with agency – whether, human, animal or inanimate. I suggest that a correct philosophy of mind requires a correct understanding of causality, and that this is an understanding best brought to the fore by considering what agency itself (in any of its varieties) involves. 
 
Lecture I. Cause and Causativity
1 November (Wednesday) 15:30 p.m.
 
[Abstract]
I explore “agential verbs”—verbs which cast any subject of which they’re predicated in the role of an agent, many of which have been called “causatives”. [Examples are:‘scrape’, ‘carry’, ‘wet’, ‘push over’, knock down’.] I scrutinize the conception of events that Donald Davidson brings to bear in his understanding of agency, and argue that although agency is a causal notion, it cannot be understood in terms of a relation cause. To this end, I shall say something about verb tense and verb aspect, in order to bring out the importance of recognizing that verbal predications may have so-called imperfective aspect [as in ‘She was/is scraping the plate’; contrast ‘She scraped the plate’].
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Lecture II. Predication, propositions, events, situations, et cetera!
3 November (Friday) 15:30 p.m. 
 
[Abstract]
I ask how we should understand “things that are done”; and I consider notions of event (/action) and of process (/activity), and how they relate to one another. Turning specifically to the question of human agency, I reflect on the question what sort of “contents” of mental states are needed in understanding it. I mean to cast doubt on the extent to which the idea of a proposition can provide a satisfactory conception of “content” in general. And I argue specifically against the widespread idea that such mental states as occur in explanations of action all have propositional contents.
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Lecture III. Agency and Time
6 November (Monday) 15:30 p.m.
 
[Abstract]
Much of the philosophical debate about time invites us to treat eternalism,possibilism and presentism as rival models of time between which we must choose. I consider how the data of agency may affect such a choice. I think that an idea of that which is (or was) ongoing [cp. the imperfective aspect of lecture 1] is inadequately understood in much of the philosophical literature on time. I’ll conclude with a suggestion about the understanding of tensed language.
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Keynote speech at Workshop on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson ―The Third Taiwan Metaphysics Colloquium (TMC 2017)
Causality in Davidson’s treatment of mind and agency
10 November (Friday) 09:10-10:40 a.m.
 
Abstract
Davidson’s treatments of human perception and human agency alike make use of an idea of causation understood as a relation between events. In the case of agency, Davidson supposes that an account must start from supposing that actions are events having a distinctive kind of causal explanation; this enables him to find a place for human agency in the event causal order. When it comes to perception, Davidson again relies upon thinking that a person’s perceiving an object to be a certain way is a matter of the operation of event causation. Now Davidson’s account of agency is contested by
those who say that it suffers from the problem of “the disappearing agent”; and an account of perception along Davidson’s lines is not universally endorsed. My suggestion is going to be that in both cases objections to Davidson’s treatments might be seen to arise from his having a faulty view about wherein the causal character of the relevant concepts (sc. of action and of perception) reside.