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4 The Standard Story of Action: An Exchange (2) Jennifer Hornsby In this second part of this exchange, I respond to Michael Smith by saying why I think that no one should endorse the standard story of action in any of its versions. I hope to show that there is an alternative to it. In the first part of the exchange, Smith replies to Hornsby 2004. My criticisms there were directed against philosophers (Smith among them) who tell us that deficiencies in the standard story of action are to be remedied by adding states of different sorts from beliefs and desires to the causes of bodily movements (ibid., 2).1 I said that these philosophers fail to address the question whether their story contains the causal notions that belong in an account of human agency (23). Smith now says that I charged the standard story with incompleteness. This strikes me as misleading . True, I maintained that the causal role of agents goes missing in an events-based conception of the causal order (16). But I never suggested that the story stands in need of completion. I could hardly have suggested this, given that my criticisms were directed against the idea that a correct story could be got by adding to the standard story further conditions, beyond those that it standardly specifies, for a case of agency. Indeed I said that “supplements to the standard story . . . inherit its crucial flaw” (2). The standard story of action is “events-based,” I said, and “events-based accounts introduce a conception of the causal order in which agents have no place” (3). Smith grants me a “grain of truth.” In explicating the causal role of agents, I said that in a case of human agency, a human being exercises a capacity to bring something about. And Smith thinks that I am “right that those who act must possess and exercise [such a] capacity.” Where I go wrong, Smith says, is in thinking “that we are unable to make sense of this within the resources available to a defender of the standard story.” In what follows I hope to show that the game is up for the standard story when it is allowed that a person’s acting is a matter of her exercising a capacity she 58 J. Hornsby has as agent. I attempt this in section 3. Section 2 will be concerned with the approach to an account of human agency taken by Smith and fellow defenders of the standard story. If I can explain why it seems to me that Smith’s understanding of his leading question “What makes it the case that [someone] acted?” is out of place, then I shall have succeeded in showing how one might think that the standard story should be abandoned , not “completed.” 1 Responses to Replies to Two Objections Smith discerns four different objections that I made to the standard story. I’ll make brief responses to Smith’s replies to the first two of these as a way of introducing the main business. (Sections 2 and 3 are in effect responses to his replies to the third and fourth objections.) (1) When I said that the standard story fails to accommodate omissions of certain sorts, I was thinking of the story, as Smith thinks of it, as purporting to give an account of what it is for A to do something intentionally by saying what conditions a movement of A’s body must satisfy if it is to be A’s Φ-intentionally doing some particular thing. My point was that someone may do something intentionally although no movement of her body occurs. Now Smith tells us that the standard story makes use of a notion of moving the body according to which “any orientation of the body counts as a bodily movement,” and “move the body” has application when someone refrains from moving. I am sympathetic to an idea of Smith’s which is in play here—namely, that there can be an exercise of a piece of bodily agential know-how even when there is no overt movement. So I allow that there can be a rationale for a capacious notion of moving the body, a bit like Smith’s. Still, it isn’t clear that the know-how that is exercised by an agent who intentionally does something can always be brought within the scope of the bodily, or that an agent’s doing what she does always belongs in the category...


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