Conceptual Inventory

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Adaptation

Either: the quality or state of being well-suited to a set of environmental conditions; or, a phenotypic character that contributes to fitting an organism to a set of environmental conditions; or, the process that results in organisms becoming better suited to a set of environmental conditions.

References:

Amundson, R. (1996). “Historical development of the concept of adaptation.” In M.R. Rose & G.V. Lauder (Eds.), Adaptation (pp. 11–54). New York: Academic Press.

Agency (Collective)

The capacity of two or more individuals to act together to achieve a shared aim, in particular, when achieving this aim requires coordinated action.

References:

Roth, A.S. (2017). "Shared agency.” In E.N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition).

Topical Filter:
Agency and Autonomy

Agency (General, or Minimal)

The capacity of a system to act on its own behalf: to initiate, sustain and terminate activities within an environment.

References:

Kauffman, S.A. (2000). Investigations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Agency (Intentional)

The capacity of a system to perform activities guided by intentional states (states that represent, or are directed upon, things and states of affairs beyond the system).

References:

O’Brien, L. (2022). “Intentional agency.” In L. Ferrero (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Agency (pp. 109–117). London: Routledge.

Agential Explanation

A form of explanation that involves a reference to the goals (real or apparent) of agents. Here “agents” should be understood as entities exhibiting at least minimal agency; see “Agency (General, or Minimal).”

References:

Okasha, S. (2018). Agents and goals in evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.