Confronting Many-Many Problems: Attention and Agentive Control
Article first published online: 20 JAN 2011
© 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 45, Issue 1, pages 50–76, March 2011
How to Cite
Wu, W. (2011), Confronting Many-Many Problems: Attention and Agentive Control. Noûs, 45: 50–76. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0068.2010.00804.x
- Issue published online: 21 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 20 JAN 2011
I argue that when perception plays a guiding role in intentional bodily action, it is a necessary part of that action. The argument begins with a challenge that necessarily arises for embodied agents, what I call the Many-Many Problem. The Problem is named after its most common case where agents face too many perceptual inputs and too many possible behavioral outputs. Action requires a solution to the Many-Many Problem by selection of a specific linkage between input and output. In bodily action the agent perceptually selects, and in this way perceptually attends to, relevant information so as to guide the execution of specific movements. Since perceptual attention is a necessary part of solving the Many-Many Problem, it is a necessary part of bodily action. Indeed, the process of implementing a solution to the Many-Many Problem, as constrained by the agent's motivational state, just is the agent's performing an intentional bodily action in the relevant way.