Alicia Juarrero

Alicia Juarrero is President and co-founder of VectorAnalytica, Inc., and a research associate at the University of Miami. She is the author of Dynamics in Action (MIT Press).

  • Context Changes Everything

    How Constraints Create Coherence

    Alicia Juarrero

    From the influential author of Dynamics in Action, how the concepts of constraints provide a way to rethink relationships, opening the way to intentional, meaningful causation.

    Grounding her work in the problem of causation, Alicia Juarrero challenges previously held beliefs that only forceful impacts are causes. Constraints, she claims, bring about effects as well, and they enable the emergence of coherence. In Context Changes Everything, Juarrero shows that coherence is induced by enabling constraints, not forceful causes, and that the resulting coherence is then maintained by constitutive constraints. Constitutive constraints, in turn, become governing constraints that regulate and modulate the way coherent entities behave. Using the tools of complexity science, she offers a rigorously scientific understanding of identity, hierarchy, and top-down causation, and in so doing, presents a new way of thinking about the natural world.

    Juarrero argues that personal identity, which has been thought to be conferred through internal traits (essential natures), is grounded in dynamic interdependencies that keep coherent structures whole. This challenges our ideas of identity, as well as the notion that stability means inflexible rigidity. On the contrary, stable entities are brittle and cannot persist. Complexity science, says Juarrero, can shape how we meet the world, how what emerges from our interactions finds coherence, and how humans can shape identities that are robust and resilient. This framework has significant implications for sociology, economics, political theory, business, and knowledge management, as well as psychology, religion, and theology. It points to a more expansive and synthetic philosophy about who we are and about the coherence of living and nonliving things alike.

    • Paperback $40.00
  • Dynamics in Action

    Dynamics in Action

    Intentional Behavior as a Complex System

    Alicia Juarrero

    What is the difference between a wink and a blink? The answer is important not only to philosophers of mind, for significant moral and legal consequences rest on the distinction between voluntary and involuntary behavior. However, "action theory"—the branch of philosophy that has traditionally articulated the boundaries between action and non-action, and between voluntary and involuntary behavior—has been unable to account for the difference.

    Alicia Juarrero argues that a mistaken, 350-year-old model of cause and explanation—one that takes all causes to be of the push-pull, efficient cause sort, and all explanation to be prooflike—underlies contemporary theories of action. Juarrero then proposes a new framework for conceptualizing causes based on complex adaptive systems. Thinking of causes as dynamical constraints makes bottom-up and top-down causal relations, including those involving intentional causes, suddenly tractable. A different logic for explaining actions—as historical narrative, not inference—follows if one adopts this novel approach to long-standing questions of action and responsibility.

    Bradford Books imprint

    • Hardcover $67.50
    • Paperback $45.00


  • Causing Human Actions

    Causing Human Actions

    New Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action

    Jesús H. Aguilar and Andrei A. Buckareff

    Leading figures working in the philosophy of action debate foundational issues relating to the causal theory of action.

    The causal theory of action (CTA) is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency—the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology. Some of the contributors defend the theory while others criticize it; some draw from historical sources while others focus on recent developments; some rely on the tools of analytic philosophy while others cite the latest empirical research on human action. All agree, however, on the centrality of the CTA in the philosophy of action. The contributors first consider metaphysical issues, then reasons-explanations of action, and, finally, new directions for thinking about the CTA. They discuss such topics as the tenability of some alternatives to the CTA; basic causal deviance; the etiology of action; teleologism and anticausalism; and the compatibility of the CTA with theories of embodied cognition. Two contributors engage in an exchange of views on intentional omissions that stretches over four essays, directly responding to each other in their follow-up essays. As the action-oriented perspective becomes more influential in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, this volume offers a long-needed debate over foundational issues.

    ContributorsFred Adams, Jesús H. Aguilar, John Bishop, Andrei A. Buckareff, Randolph Clarke, Jennifer Hornsby, Alicia Juarrero, Alfred R. Mele, Michael S. Moore, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Josef Perner, Johannes Roessler, David-Hillel Ruben, Carolina Sartorio, Michael Smith, Rowland Stout

    • Hardcover $75.00
    • Paperback $40.00