4 The success view I – Agentive abilities [chapter]

2020 Agents' Abilities  
So far,this book has been rather destructive.Let us now switch into construction mode. In this and the next chapter,Iwill takeall of the insights from the last two chapters and use them to come up with anew,and, as Iwill argue, superior view of abilities:the success view of ability.Iwillproceed in twosteps.Inthis chapter, I'll be dealingexclusively with agentive abilitiesand developing the success view for abilities of that kind. In the next chapter,the view is going to be extended to cover
more » ... tended to cover non-agentive abilities as well. By the end of the next chapter,we 'll have arriveda tafullyg eneral and comprehensive view of abilities -the success view of abilities tout court. Whys tart with agentive abilities?F or threes imple reasons.F irst,t he paradigmatic cases of abilitiesa re of the agentive kind. When asked to name af ew abilities,m ost people come up with abilities to playi nstruments, do some sport or other, drive ac ar,cook ad ish, playagame, and so on. Thisi sn oc oincidence. Abrief look into the Corpus of Contemporary AmericanEnglish (COCA) makes it evident thata scriptions of agentive abilities are by far the most prevalent ones. Itake it to be reasonable to start an investigation of the subject matter from there. Secondly, the success view of agentive abilities will turn out to be rather concretewhere the successview of abilities tout court will necessarilyhavetoremain somewhat abstract.Inthe following sense: abilities tout court,Iwill argue, are a matter of success; and success, in turn, Iw ill argue, is am atter of ac ertain modal tie between certain triggers and responses. The good thing about agentive abilities is that we can actuallyspecify what the crucial triggeri si ns uch cases; namelya ni ntention to ϕ (or,o naweaker reading,s ome other properlyr elated intention). When it comes to the success view of abilities toutc ourt,a ll we can sayi st hat the triggerw ill have to be such that ϕ-ing in response to it counts as as uccess. It hereforet ake it to be helpfult oh avew orked out the success view of agentive abilities before moving on to the more abstract formulation of the view.( If this sounds somewhat obscure to youa tt his point,f ear not.A ll of this is goingtobedevelopedvery systematicallyinthis and the next chapter.) Thirdly, and relatedly, the success view of agentive abilities can in large parts avail itself of descriptive terms wherethe success view of abilities tout court employs normative terminology. In the typicalc ases, to have an agentive ability is for ac ertain modal tie between the intention to ϕ and performances of ϕ-ing to obtain; no normative vocabulary here. Fora nagent to have an ability tout court is for there to be acertain modal tie between acertain triggerand the agent's ϕing,wherethe triggerisspecifiedasone in response to which ϕ-ing counts as a OpenAccess. ©2 020J aster,p ublished by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative CommonsA ttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.
doi:10.1515/9783110650464-005 fatcat:y4igxy534fd4rnfoybbhb6cfum