(FB 1547571421 Timestamp)
AGENCY AND INTENTIONALITY
by Bill Joslin
(important concept)(core) (comments by CurtD)
Test of Agency does not require intention (i.e. it’s not a synonym for free-will).
Agency, in the context of biological and chemistry does not imply or require intentionality. i.e. “The active agent in soap is lye”
This might clarify why the sociological definition of Agency, that being an actor’s ability to act outside of influences of Structure, is flawed (it presumes intentionality exists as a necessary component of agency i.e. acts of free will unfettered by structure)
My stance regarding agency is simply this:
…the ability to cause an effect….
(CurtD: Traditional definition of power, is “the ability to alter the probability of outcomes.”)
In this context, structural influences can be the very means by which agency emerges and increases (rather then being distinguished apart from it)
From here: the issue we are discussing when discussing limitations to agency within a sociology context relates to other actors (individual or institutional) which act in opposition to other agents.
Thus my definition of AUTONOMY as being free from imposition upon one’s agency BY OTHER ACTORS. (Rather then natural or structural limitations to agency).
Intentionality remains a subset of agency in this regards. Not a necessary component.
(CurtD: Via Positiva Agency and Via Negativa Autonomy produce market competition for action. Intention (subjective value) is not relevant to the facts of ones agency and one’s autonomy)
For example: in law intention is not the primary means by which guilt is established. There are circumstances where intention is not relevant i.e. manslaughter, criminal neglect etc.
(CurtD: In law we test for due diligence and liability and intent to commit a crime only tangentially. In other words we separate the TRUTH (due diligence and liability), from what is MORAL (intent).)
So for instance, the impact on society from a low IQ cohort is not a matter of lacking agency, but rather that their aggregate agency constitutes a net negative – their combined effect being a result of their agency, regardless of intentionality or deliberateness of their actions- no agency, no effect – no intentionality yet the effect remains.
(CurtD: people do not need to intend harm to cause harm. When they cause harm by lack of due diligence, or intent, then THEY are to blame. But if they lack the AGENCY then WE are to blame for not constraining the harm that they can do.)
It’s is precisely because of their agency that we seek constraints. Why? Because their agency imposes upon other actors resulting in a net drain on the agency of the group as a whole…. Thus autonomy being the measure of decidability.
Why is this important?
Because for laws, social norms etc, we are constructing structural limitations upon agents, to constrain their effects from being damaging (regardless of whether they intend it or not).
In other words we are addressing their agency, their ability to cause an effect – regardless of their intentional choice.
So how do these structural constraints NOT constitute an imposition upon their agency? 1) via negativa 2) not compelled.
You are free to break the law (act outside the constraint) but not free from the consequences. The potential to act remains un-imposed upon. This is very different than imposing upon agency to prevent the acts from taking place. I.e. compelled behaviour. Compelled behavior being a defining quality of dystopian nightmares.
Now extrapolated this to our current situations of sin taxes, compelled speech laws, deplatforming etc. These are all forms of prescriptive application of structural constraints i.e. impositions upon agency…
(CurtD: this is the difference between moral blame and criminal blame, and humans being what we are, conflate ‘wrongness’ of different sorts, and blame of different persons when we sense ‘wrongness’. Then as we are perpetual victims of our tendency for conflation we use terms with specific meaning (moral, lawful, truthful, logical, reasonable etc to load and frame rather than to deflate and test.)