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Summary "Action Theory" as it is used here is the sub-area in the philosophy of action/agency that is concerned chiefly with the foundations of the broader sub-discipline. Central problems include the nature and scope of intentional action and agency, the explanation of action, and our knowledge of our actions. Most of the other problems that fall within the scope of this category at PhilPapers are closely related to such foundational questions.
Key works [BROKEN REFERENCE: DORRAC-2w]#DORRAC-2Perhaps the two most influential works that have shaped the current state of action theory are Anscombe 1957 and Davidson 1963. Davidson's essay is the locus classicus for the causal theory of action and for causalism about reason-explanations of actions. Anscombe's book has been influential among proponents of non-causal theories of action and reason-explanation. For a classic defense of the agent-causal perspective, see Chisholm 1966. And for a volitionist perspective, see McCann 1974. Some collections of essays that may help readers get a sense of the major debates in action theory today include Mele 1997, Aguilar & Buckareff 2010, Aguilar & Buckareff 2009, and D'Oro & Sandis 2013.
Introductions The following are good places to start to for those looking for guides to the current state of the art in action theory. Mele 2005 Mele 1992 Wilson 2008
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  1. Forrest E. Baird (1992). Human Thought and Action. Upa.
    A book of readings in Western intellectual history focusing on the role of reason in human action. Contents:^ Plato: Myth of the Cave; Plato: ^IThe Four Virtues; Aristotle: Knowledge of Causes; Aristotle: The Types of Governments; Epicurus: Epicureanism; Epictetus: Stoicism; St. Augustine: The Platonist; St. Augustine: The Nature of Sources of Evil; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Four Laws; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Nature of the Soul; Pico: The Oration on the Dignity of Man; John Calvin: Reason, Sin and Illumination; St. (...)
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  2. S. J. Boey (2013). De dubbele oorspronkelijkheid Van blondels “action”. Bijdragen 24 (2):130-153.
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  3. J. Nicolas Kaufmann (1995). "Philosophie de L'Action. Contribution Critique À la Théorie Analytique de l'Action", Par Marc Neuberg. [REVIEW] Dialogue 34:420.
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  4. Kenneth W. Kemp (1994). Right Intention and the Oil Factor in the Second Gulf War. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 1 (1):15-20.
    This essay responds to the argument that US interest in Kuwaiti oil made its war against Iraq fail the just-war criterion of right intention. That argument is based on a misunderstanding of the criterion, namely, that right intention requires not merely the presence of a concern for justice but the absence of any other (especially self-interested) motives. Correction of this misunderstanding is important to application of the just-war theory to the general question of intervention in foreign wars.
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  5. Roberta Kevelson (1991). Action and Agency.
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  6. Heidi Kloos & Guy Van Orden (2010). Voluntary Behavior in Cognitive and Motor Tasks. Mind and Matter 8 (1):19-43.
    Many previous treatments of voluntary behavior have viewed intentions as causes of behavior. This has resulted in several dilemmas, including a dilemma concerning the origin of intentions. The present article circumvents traditional dilemmas by treating intentions as constraints that restrict degrees of freedom for behavior. Constraints self-organize as temporary dynamic structures that span the mind-body divide. This treatment of intentions and voluntary behavior yields a theory of intentionality that is consistent with existing findings and supported by current research.
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  7. Giinther Knoblich (2006). An Introduction to Intention and Action in Body Perception. In Günther Knoblich, Ian M. Thornton, Marc Grosjean & Maggie Shiffrar (eds.), Human Body Perception From the Inside Out. Oxford University Press 387.
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  8. Richard Kuhns (1960). Criticism and the Problem of Intention. Journal of Philosophy 57 (1):5-23.
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  9. D. L. (1973). Enigmas of Agency. Review of Metaphysics 27 (1):163-164.
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  10. John Lachs (1973). God's Action and Nature's Ways. Idealistic Studies 3 (3):223-228.
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  11. Daniel González Lagier (2003). The Paradoxes of Action Human Action, Law and Philosophy. Monograph Collection (Matt - Pseudo).
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  12. Charles Landesman (1969). Actions as Universals: An Inquiry Into the Metaphysics of Action. American Philosophical Quarterly 6 (3):247 - 252.
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  13. P. E. Langford (1988). Autonomy. Review of Metaphysics 41 (3):622-624.
  14. Roy Frederick Lawrence (1966). Motives, Intentions, and Actions. Dissertation, University of California, Berkeley
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  15. Vladimir Lifschitz, Actions as Special Cases.
    This paper is motivated by the idea of interaction between two directions of research in knowledge representation: the design of action description languages and the development of libraries of reusable, general-purpose knowledge components. Writing an action description that characterizes actions in terms of their effects, as common today, can be compared to writing a program that does not use standard subroutines. We conjecture that a library of standard descriptions for a number of “basic” actions can facilitate writing, understanding and modifying (...)
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  16. Robert Joseph Michael Lithown (1976). Actions: Their Identification and Explanation. An Essay in the Philosophy of Action and the Epistemology of the Social Sciences. Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario (Canada)
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  17. Alfred Louch (1981). Actions. International Studies in Philosophy 13 (2):93-95.
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  18. Christoph Lumer, Practical Arguments for Prudential Justifications of Actions.
    Practical arguments for actions are arguments which, besides their epistemic function, shall motivate an addressee to execute the justified action. First, a strategy is developed how this motivational and other requirements can be met. Part of this strategy is to identify a thesis for which holds that believing it motivates in the required manner. Second, relying on empirical decision theory, such a thesis is identified. Finally, precise validity criteria for the respective arguments are developed.
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  19. Andres Luure (2009). Action in Signs. Sign Systems Studies 37 (1-2):270-280.
    The present article discusses sign typology from the perspective of action which is conceived as having a sextet structure. The relation between means and purpose in action is analogous to the relation between sign and meaning. The greater the degree in which the action has purpose, the less tool-like the action is.Peirce’s trichotomies correspond to a fragment of the sextet structure.
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  20. B. M. M. (1969). The Logic of Decision and Action. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 23 (1):143-144.
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  21. M. M. (1982). Theory of Action. Review of Metaphysics 35 (4):864-865.
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  22. S. Maasen, W. Prinz & G. Roth (2003). The Explanatory Role of Consciousness in Action. In Sabine Maasen, Wolfgang Prinz & Gerhard Roth (eds.), Voluntary Action: Brains, Minds, and Sociality. Oxford University Press 188--201.
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  23. Matthew D. MacKenzie (2001). The Five Factors of Action and the Decentring of Agency in the Bhagavad Gtā. Asian Philosophy 11 (3):141 – 150.
    I will here analyse the five factors of action given in the Bhagavad Gtā, paying specific attention to the implications of this account for the Gtā's moral and soteriological psychologies. I argue that the Gtā's account of action constitutes a decentring of agency which paves the way for liberation. Further, while the ethics and moral psychology of the Gtā are often seen as similar to Kant's, I will argue that the decentring of agency in the Gtā places the liberated person (...)
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  24. Ruth Chimacoff Macklin (1968). Theory of Action. Dissertation, Case Western Reserve University
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  25. J. Macmurray, A. C. Ewing & O. S. Franks (1938). What Is Action? Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 17:69-120.
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  26. Graeme MacQueen (2008). WhatValues Underlie Our Actions? In Neil Arya & Joanna Santa Barbara (eds.), Peace Through Health: How Health Professionals Can Work for a Less Violent World. Kumarian Press 1075.
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  27. V. Mangalvedkar (1919). The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya. Indian Literature Publishers.
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  28. J. S. Mann, Pasco Daphne & Bernard Bosanquet (1889). Symposium: What Takes Place in Voluntary Action? Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 1 (2):61 - 76.
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  29. André Marc (1951). Being and Action. Modern Schoolman 28 (3):175-190.
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  30. Eric Marcus (2010). Life and Action. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (4):749-751.
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  31. Chirstopher Martin (1994). Libertad y Revocabilidad. Anuario Filosófico 27 (3):991-1006.
    The article treat with the voluntary action (in which we can include the free human action) and non voluntary causality. The author wants give some aclarations over the actual controversy, from Aquinas thought.
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  32. Jane R. Martin (1972). Basic Actions and Simple Actions. American Philosophical Quarterly 9 (1):59 - 68.
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  33. Michael Martin (1978). Volitions and Actions. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):187 - 190.
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  34. Francesca Masi (2007). Swerves and Voluntary Actions. Rhizai. A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 2:311-328.
    Critical notice of Tim O’ Keefe, Epicurus on Freedom, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005.
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  35. Hugh J. McCann (2013). Action. In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell
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  36. Mary A. Mccloskey (1979). THALBERG, IRVING "Perception, Emotion and Action". [REVIEW] Philosophy 54:264.
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  37. John Mcdowell (2013). Zum Verhältnis von Rezeptivem Und Praktischem Wissen. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 61 (3):387-401.
    According to G. E. M. Anscombe, practical knowledge, an agent’s knowledge of what she is intentionally doing, is not contemplative or speculative; it does not owe its being knowledge to its being derived from what it knows. She argues for this on the ground that practical knowledge can be one of “two knowledges of the same thing”, where the other of the two is speculative. If we try to conceive practical knowledge as speculative, we fall into a hopeless picture in (...)
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  38. John McDowell (2011). Pragmatism and Intention-in-Action. In Rosa M. Calcaterra (ed.), New Perspectives on Pragmatism and Analytic Philosophy. Editions Rodopi
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  39. John Mcdowell (2011). “Some Remarks On Intention In Action”. Studies in Social Justice:1-18.
    I suggest that intentions for the future become intentions in action when the time for acting comes. The image of intentions as a kind of continuant helpfully accommodates progress in an action; a persisting intention in action changes its shape in respect of how much of what is intended lies behind it and how much is still in prospect. Specific motor intentions in the course of, for instance, crossing a street are shapes successively taken by a persisting intention in action. (...)
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  40. R. Mcinerny (1991). The Structure of Human Action. Daimon: Revista de Filosofia 3:15.
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  41. Alison G. Mcintyre (1985). Omissions and Other Acts. Dissertation, Princeton University
    Philosophical discussion of the topic of intentional agency has often focused on questions about the nature of the events which are intentional actions. This event-oriented approach cannot yield an adequate account of human agency because it cannot accommodate negative acts, or acts of omission. Agents may act intentionally by omitting to act, but many such acts of omission cannot be identified with any event consisting of a bodily movement. This dissertation is an attempt to develop an account of agency which (...)
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  42. Andrew Joseph McKinlay, Creative Agency.
    This thesis is about the agency involved with creativity. I am concerned particularly with the process of Insight Based Problem Solving (IBPS). IBPS is a problem solving process that is associated with a particular phenomenal experience, of sudden enlightenment, where new content arrives when the individual problem solver is not intentionally considering the problem at hand. The moment of insight is intuitively involuntary and as I argue for in chapter 1, is not successfully incorporated into any current account of creative (...)
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  43. R. N. McLaughlin (1967). Human Action. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 45 (2):141 – 158.
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  44. Robert N. McLaughlin (2000). Intentions and Causes, Actions and Right Actions. Ratio 13 (1):54–68.
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  45. Jeff McMahon (2008). Collective Crime and Collective Punishment. Criminal Justice Ethics 27 (1):4-12.
    George Fletcher emerges in his writing, as in his life, as a colorful and highly individual figure. The last thing one expects of him is the surrender of individual identity to an anonymous submersion in the collective. Yet doctrinally he is a collectivist. In his recent writings, he has been seeking to collectivize just about everything: action, responsibility, guilt, liability, self-defense, criminal punishment, international criminal law, action in war, war crimes, and so on.
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  46. Alfred R. Mele (1984). Michael A. Simon: "Understanding Human Action". [REVIEW] The Thomist 48 (1):121.
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  47. Wendy Messenger (2009). Managing Multi-Agency Working. In Michael Reed & Natalie Canning (eds.), Reflective Practice in the Early Years. Sage 126.
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  48. Denise Meyerson (1994). When Are My Actions Due to Me? Analysis 54 (3):171 - 174.
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  49. Patricia G. Milanich (1984). Allowing, Refraining, and Failing: The Structure of Omissions. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 45 (1):57 - 67.
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  50. Fred D. Miller Jr (1975). Actions and Results. Philosophical Quarterly 25 (101):350-354.
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