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Agency within and without organisms

The Metaphysics of Teleology
Friday, November 5, 2021, 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm

This talk explores and extends the notion of minimal agency developed in the context of the organisational view of teleology. According to this view, self-maintaining living systems, organisms, become autonomous agents when they develop a special kind of reactivity to environmental changes, when they start to act on their own behalf. They change not their internal states but aspects of the environment not already constrained by their self-maintaining cycles in a way that is funcional with respect to their self-maintenance. The aim is to explore the notion of agency outside the realm of organisms. There are cybernetic systems that at the level of behaviour exhibit important features of agency even though they are not organisms and in themselves not organised for self-maintenance. The task at hand is to spell out a derivative notion of agency for these special kinds of systems.

Gergely Kertész works on topics in the intersection of metaphysics and philosophy of science. He is interested in emergence, reduction and the limits and proper methods of causal mechanical explanation in the life-sciences. He is a research associate at the ELKH Institute of Philosophy as a member of the Morals and Science, MTA Lendület Program.

The chief goal of the "Meant to Be: Resuscitating the Metaphysics of Teleology" project is to foster intelligent debate on philosophical issues concerning science, religion, and their conflicts and connections.
Headed by principal investigator Daniel Kodaj, along with research assistant Tamás Paár, and co-investigators László Bernáth and Martin Pickup and running from October 2020 to March 2022, the project will include a public seminar series, two international conferences, two edited volumes, and an online materials and bibliography that will be available on-line at the project website. In addition to its research activities, the project is launching a Hungarian YouTube channel to explore some of the project’s main topics intending to be accessible to non-academics, too.

"Meant to Be: Resuscitating the Metaphysics of Teleology", is supported by a subgrant from the New Horizons for Science and Religion in Central and Eastern Europe initiative, is supported by grants from the Ian Ramsey Centre and the John Templeton Foundation.and is hosted by the CEU Center for Religious Studies.

To find out more about this project, visit the website