Active inference and the primacy of the 'I can'

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

Abstract

This paper deals with the question of agency and intentionality in the context of the free-energy principle. The free-energy principle is a system-theoretic framework for understanding living self-organizing systems and how they relate to their environments. I will first sketch the main philosophical positions in the literature: a rationalist Helmholtzian interpretation (Hohwy 2013; Clark 2013), a cybernetic interpretation (Seth 2015b) and the enactive affordance-based interpretation (Bruineberg and Rietveld 2014; Bruineberg et al. 2016) and will then show how agency and intentionality are construed differently on these different philosophical interpretations. I will then argue that a purely Helmholtzian is limited, in that it can account only account for agency in the context of perceptual inference. The cybernetic account cannot give a full account of action, since purposiveness is accounted for only to the extent that it pertains to the control of homeostatic essential variables. I will then argue that the enactive affordance-based account attempts to provide broader account of purposive action without presupposing goals and intentions coming from outside of the theory. In the second part of the paper, I will discuss how each of these three interpretations conceives of the sense agency and intentionality in different ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and predictive processing
EditorsThomas Metzinger, Wanja Wiese
Place of PublicationFrankfurt am Main
PublisherMIND Group
Chapter5
Pages1-18
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9783958571389
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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