AUTONOMOUS AGENCY: The definition I propose for autonomous agency It is
open to challenge. Of course, there are many ways that we use the term
'agent' in more general and metaphoric ways. I am, however, interested in
the more fundamental conception that these derived uses stem from. I do not
claim that this definition is original, but rather that it is what we
implicitly understand by the concept. So if this is not your understanding
I am open to suggestions for modification.

I should add that it has been a recent goal of my work to describe an
empirically testable simplest model system that satisfies this definition.
Those of you who are familiar with my work will recognize that this is what
I call an autogenic or teleodynamic system. In this context, however, it is
only the adequacy of the definition that I am interested in exploring. As
in many of the remarks of others on this topic it is characterized by
strange-loop recursivity, self-reference, and physicality. And it may be
worth while describing how this concept is defined by e.g. Hofstadter, von
Foerster, Luhmann, Moreno, Kauffman, Barad, and others, to be sure that we
have covered the critical features and haven't snuck in any "demons". In my
definition, I have attempted to avoid any cryptic appeal to observers or
unexamined teleological properties, because my purpose is instead to
provide a constructive definition of what these properties entail and why
they are essential to a full conception of information.

CENTRALITY OF NORMATIVE PROPERTIES: A critical factor when discussing
agency is that it is typically defined with respect to "satisfaction
conditions" or "functions" or "goals" or other NORMATIVE properties.
Normative properties are all implicitly teleological. They are irrelevant
to chemistry and physics. The concept of an "artificial agent" may not
require intrinsic teleology (e.g. consider thermostats or guidance systems
- often described as teleonomic systems) but the agentive properties of
such artifacts are then implicitly parasitic on imposed teleology provided
by some extrinsic agency. This is of course implicit also in the concepts
of 'signal' and 'noise' which are central to most information concepts.
These are not intrinsic properties of information, but are extrinsically
imposed distinctions (e.g. noise as signal to the repair person). So I
consider the analysis of agency and its implicit normativity to be a
fundamental issue to be resolved in our analysis of information. Though we
can still bracket any consideration of agency from many analyses my simply
assuming it (e.g. assumed users, interpreters, organisms and
their functions, etc.), but this explicitly leaves a critical defining
criterion outside the analysis. In these cases, we should just be clear
that in doing so we have imported unexplained boundary conditions into the
analysis by fiat. Depending on the goal of the analysis (also a
teleological factor) this may be unimportant. But the nature and origin of
agency and normativity remain foundational questions for any full theory of
information.

On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:47 PM, Stanley N Salthe <ssal...@binghamton.edu>
wrote:

> Here is an interesting recent treatment of autonomy.
>
> Alvaro Moreno and Matteo Mossio: Biological Autonomy: A Philosophical
>
> and Theoretical Enquiry (History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life
> Sciences 12);
>
> Springer, Dordrecht, 2015, xxxiv + 221 pp., $129 hbk, ISBN
> 978-94-017-9836-5
>
>
> STAN
>
> On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 11:44 AM, Terrence W. DEACON <dea...@berkeley.edu>
> wrote:
>
>> AN AUTONOMOUS AGENT IS A DYNAMICAL SYSTEM ORGANIZED TO BE CAPABLE OF
>> INITIATING PHYSICAL WORK TO FURTHER PRESERVE THIS SAME CAPACITY IN THE
>> CONTEXT OF  INCESSANT EXTRINSIC AND/OR INTRINSIC TENDENCIES FOR THIS SYSTEM
>> CAPACITY TO DEGRADE.
>>
>>
>> THIS ENTAILS A CAPACITY TO ORGANIZE WORK THAT IS SPECIFICALLY CONTRAGRADE
>> TO THE FORM OF THIS DEGRADATIONAL INFLUENCE, AND THUS ENTAILS A CAPACITY TO
>> BE INFORMED BY THE EFFECTS OF THAT INFLUENCE WITH RESPECT TO THE AGENT’S
>> CRITICAL ORGANIZATIONAL CONSTRAINTS.
>>
>> On Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 6:00 PM, Koichiro Matsuno <cxq02...@nifty.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>>> On 19 Oct 2017 at 6:42 AM, Alex Hankey wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> the actual subject has to be non-reducible and fundamental to our
>>> universe.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>    This view is also supported by Conway-Kochen’s free will theorem
>>> (2006). If (a big IF, surely) we admit that our fellows can freely exercise
>>> their free will, it must be impossible to imagine that the atoms and
>>> molecules lack their share of the similar capacity. For our bodies
>>> eventually consist of those atoms and molecules.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>    Moreover, the exercise of free will on the part of the constituent
>>> atoms and molecules could come to implement the centripetality of Bob
>>> Ulanowicz at long last under the guise of chemical affinity unless the case
>>> would have to forcibly be dismissed.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>    This has been my second post this week.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>    Koichiro Matsuno
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> *From:* Fis [mailto:fis-boun...@listas.unizar.es] *On Behalf Of *Alex
>>> Hankey
>>> *Sent:* Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:42 AM
>>> *To:* Arthur Wist <arthur.w...@gmail.com>; FIS Webinar <
>>> Fis@listas.unizar.es>
>>> *Subject:* Re: [Fis] What is “Agent”?
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> David Chalmers's analysis made it clear that if agents exist, then they
>>> are as fundamental to the universe as electrons or gravitational mass.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Certain kinds of physiological structure support 'agents' - those
>>> emphasized by complexity biology. But the actual subject has to be
>>> non-reducible and fundamental to our universe.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Alex
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Fis mailing list
>>> Fis@listas.unizar.es
>>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis
>>>
>>>
>>
>>
>> --
>> Professor Terrence W. Deacon
>> University of California, Berkeley
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Fis mailing list
>> Fis@listas.unizar.es
>> http://listas.unizar.es/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/fis
>>
>>
>


-- 
Professor Terrence W. Deacon
University of California, Berkeley
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