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Conclusion to Philosophical Issues in Behavioural Science

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This lecture is backwards. It starts with the conclusion to the whole course because the whole class is together only for the first half of the lecture.

Integration Questions

The course has centered on a set of Integration Questions.

Where there are philosophical, psychological and formal theories which appear to target a single set of phenomena while saying incompatible things about it, we face two questions:

  • Are they actually inconsistent?
  • if so: how, if at all, should either or both theories be refined?

Such questions pose the Integration Question.

An Integration Question is interesting because apparent conflicts between philosophical, psychological and formal theories arise at the most fundamental level.

Hint The long essay questions for this course are about aspects of this integration Question (except those which are about an interface problem). You are asked to find significant inconsistencies or to advance our understanding of how integration is possible.

Five Integration Questions

By the end of this course we will have investigated five integration questions:

  1. Standard Solution to The Problem of Action vs the dual-process theory of instrumental action (see The Problem of Action meets Habitual Processes)

  2. Standard Solution to The Problem of Action vs theories of motor control (see Motor Representation and The Problem of Action)

  3. Decision Theory vs the dual-process theory of instrumental action (see Dual Process Theory Opposes Decision Theory? and Are Objections to Decision Theory also Objections to the Dual Process Theory of Action?)

  4. Bratman’s theory of shared intention vs team reasoning (see From Team Reasoning to Shared Intention and From Team Reasoning to Shared Intention)

  5. Bratman’s theory of shared intention vs motor representations of collective goals (see Could Motor Representations Ground Collective Goals?)

Ask a Question

Your question will normally be answered in the question session of the next lecture.

More information about asking questions.


collective goal : an outcome to which two or more agents’ actions are directed where this is not, or not only, a matter of each action being directed to that outcome (Butterfill & Sinigaglia, 2022).
decision theory : I use ‘decision theory’ for the theory elaborated by Jeffrey (1983). Variants are variously called ‘expected utility theory’ (Hargreaves-Heap & Varoufakis, 2004), ‘revealed preference theory’ (Sen, 1973) and ‘the theory of rational choice’ (Sugden, 1991). As the differences between variants are not important for our purposes, the term can be used for any of core formal parts of the standard approaches based on Ramsey (1931) and Savage (1972).
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.)
interface problem : An interface problem may arise when two kinds of representation sometimes non-accidentally match: the problem is to explain how such matches are possible.
motor representation : The kind of representation characteristically involved in preparing, performing and monitoring sequences of small-scale actions such as grasping, transporting and placing an object. They represent actual, possible, imagined or observed actions and their effects.
outcome : An outcome of an action is a possible or actual state of affairs.
shared intention : An attitude that stands to joint action as ordinary, individual intention stands to ordinary, individual action. It is hard to find consensus on what shared intention is, but most agree that it is neither shared nor intention. (Variously called ‘collective’, ‘we-’ and ‘joint’ intention.)
Standard Solution : (to The Problem of Action). Actions are those events which stand in an appropriate causal relation to an intention.
team reasoning : ‘somebody team reasons if she works out the best possible feasible combination of actions for all the members of her team, then does her part in it’ (Bacharach, 2006, p. 121).
The Problem of Action : What distinguishes your actions from things that merely happen to you? (According to Frankfurt (1978, p. 157), ‘The problem of action is to explicate the contrast between what an agent does and what merely happens to him.’)


Bacharach, M. (2006). Beyond individual choice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Retrieved from
Butterfill, S. A., & Sinigaglia, C. (2022). Towards a Mechanistically Neutral Account of Acting Jointly: The Notion of a Collective Goal. Mind, X(X), fzab096.
Chater, N. (2018). The Mind is Flat: The Illusion of Mental Depth and The Improvised Mind. Penguin UK.
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.
Frankfurt, H. G. (1978). The problem of action. American Philosophical Quarterly, 15(2), 157–162.
Hargreaves-Heap, S., & Varoufakis, Y. (2004). Game theory: A critical introduction. London: Routledge. Retrieved from
Jeffrey, R. C. (1983). The logic of decision, second edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ramsey, F. (1931). Truth and probability. In R. Braithwaite (Ed.), The foundations of mathematics and other logical essays. London: Routledge.
Savage, L. J. (1972). The foundations of statistics (2nd rev. ed). New York: Dover Publications.
Sen, A. (1973). Behaviour and the Concept of Preference. Economica, 40(159), 241–259.
Sugden, R. (1991). Rational Choice: A Survey of Contributions from Economics and Philosophy. The Economic Journal, 101(407), 751–785.