Andrew Bowie – Background Capabilities and Prereflexive Awareness

7 October 2009 – Accounts of human action in many parts of philosophy tend to depend on the idea that action is to be characterised in terms of following norms or rules. This gives considerable emphasis to the idea of self-consciously determining yourself to do something. According to a rule. This model has considerable consequences for how procedures are codified in many areas of social and professional life.
However, there are serious reasons to think that this model is inadequate as an account of how we actually do many things. This is because, even though rules are essential, so much that we need to do these things cannot come immediately to consciousness when we do them. Examples of what is involved here range from the ways in which we carry out conversations, to the example used for the talk: jazz improvisation.