New Publication on Metaphysics of Agency

Published 22 April 2024

Sadjad Soltanzadeh has published a new article entitled ‘A Metaphysical Account of Agency for Technology Governance’ in the Journal AI & Society.


The way in which agency is conceptualised has implications for understanding human–machine interactions and the governance of technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Traditionally, agency is conceptualised as a capacity, defined by intrinsic properties, such as cognitive or volitional facilities. I argue that the capacity-based account of agency is inadequate to explain the dynamics of human–machine interactions and guide technology governance. Instead, I propose to conceptualise agency as impact. Agents as impactful entities can be identified at different levels: from the low level of individual entities to the high level of complex socio-technical systems. Entities can impact their surroundings through different channels, and more influential channels of impact lead to higher degrees of agency. Technology governance must take into account different channels of impact in the contexts of use, design and regulation.

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