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The previous lecture established that there are two theoretically coherent models of instrumental action, one involving goal-directed processes and the other habitual processes.

In this lecture, we considered some evidence indicating that each of the models does actually explain some actions.

This creates an obstacle for understanding what actions are. In philosophy there is a widely-held, standard view about this. But that view seems to be inconsistent with the dual-process theory of instrumental action. If so, we need an alternative philosophical framework to support theorising about action in the behavioural and social sciences.

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dual-process theory of instrumental action : Instrumental action ‘is controlled by two dissociable processes: a goal-directed and an habitual process’ (Dickinson, 2016, p. 177). (See instrumental action.)


Dickinson, A. (2016). Instrumental conditioning revisited: Updating dual-process theory. In J. B. Trobalon & V. D. Chamizo (Eds.), Associative learning and cognition (Vol. 51, pp. 177–195). Edicions Universitat Barcelona.