Published open access in Biological Theory
Abstract: The first part of this essay elaborates a minimal sense of agency by exploring some key related concepts as they figure in science and technology studies (STS). My example is drawn from the history of physics, but the ontological picture of the liveliness of matter that emerges is general and primordial—something to take into account whatever sort of system, physical or biological, one is concerned with. The second part relates the minimal sense of agency to higher-level conceptualizations that associate agency with purposefulness and adaptation. The aim is to show how a primordial understanding of agency can be extended towards biological concerns, with a consideration of some cybernetic machines as a bridge.