Autonomy and Desire in Machines and Cognitive Agent Systems

Kevin Magill*, Yasemin J. Erden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The development of cognitive agent systems relies on theories of agency, within which the concept of desire is key. Indeed, in the quest to develop increasingly autonomous cognitive agent systems, desire has had a significant role. We argue, however, that insufficient attention has been given to analysis and clarification of desire as a complex concept. Accordingly, in this paper, we will draw on some key philosophical accounts of the nature of desire, including what distinguishes it from other mental and motivational states, in order to identify some key characteristics of desire as a complex concept. We will then draw on these in order to investigate the role, definition and adequacy of concepts of desire within applied theoretical models of agency and agent systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-364
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Computation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Agency
  • Autonomy
  • Cognitive agent systems
  • Desire
  • Machine intelligence
  • Philosophy


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