How can we explain the intentional nature of an expert’s actions, performed without immediate and conscious control, relying
instead on automatic cognitive processes? How can we account for the differences and similarities with a novice’s performance
of the same actions? Can a naturalist explanation of intentional expert action be in line with a philosophical concept of
intentional action? Answering these and related questions in a positive sense, this dissertation develops a three-step argument.
Part I considers different methods of explanations in cognitive neuroscience (Bennett & Hacker’s philosophical, conceptual
analysis; Marr’s three levels of explanation; Neural Correlates of Consciousness research; mechanistic explanation), defending
‘mechanistic explanation’ as a method that provides the necessary tools for integrating interdisciplinary insights into human
action. Furthermore, a dynamic, explanatory mechanism allows the assessment of the impact of learning and development on expert
action in a valuable way that other methods don’t. Part II continues by scrutinizing several cognitive neuroscientific theories
of learning and development (neuroconstructivism; dual-processing theories; simulation theory; extended mind/cognition hypothesis),
arguing for the complex interactions between different types of processing and different action representations involved in
expert action performances. Moreover, according to our discussion of a particular ‘simulation theory’ these interactions can
be influenced in several ways with the use of language, allowing an agent to configure a specific action representation for
performance at a later stage. The results of Parts I and II are then applied in Part III to a parallel discussion of philosophical
analyses of intentional action (discussing i.a. Frankfurt, Bratman, Pacherie and Ricoeur) and cognitive neuroscientific insights
in it. Both approaches are found to converge in emphasizing the importance for an expert to develop stable patterns of actions
that comply maximally not only with his intentions, but also with his motor expertise and with situational conditions. Consequently,
his actions - automatic, or not - rely on this ‘sculpted space of actions’.
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