DOING AWAY WITH THE “SHMAGENCY” OBJECTION TO CONSTITUTIVISM

2018-12-12T03:22:01Z (GMT) by HILLE PAAKKUNAINEN

Abstract Constitutivists attempt to ground reasons for action in the constitutive features of agency. Central to Enoch's famous “shmagency” objection to constitutivism is the idea that constitutivists should worry about the question whether there is reason to be an agent rather than a “shmagent”-where a shmagent is a non-agent being who lacks the constitutive features of agency, but is otherwise as similar to agents as can be. I explain why constitutivism isn’t in trouble even if there’s no reason to be an agent. The nature of agency can in principle ground authoritative reasons for agents to act, even if there isn’t, in addition, a reason to be an agent. Relatedly, I explain why a prominent strand in previous responses to Enoch is misleading in focusing on whether the request for reasons to be an agent, as posed by the shmagent, is even possible or intelligible. Even if the shmagent’s request for reasons is possible and intelligible-as I argue it is-this doesn’t matter for constitutivists, for the request is misguided: constitutivists need no reasons to be an agent.