Carl Ginet has advanced an account of action explanation on which actions can be entirely uncaused and action explanations need not cite causal factors. Several objections have been raised against this view, and Ginet has recently defended the account. Here it is argued that Ginet’s defense fails to come to grips with the chief problems faced by his view.
Recently, a new problem has arisen for an Anscombean conception of intentional action. The claim is that the Anscombean’s emphasis on the formally causal character of practical knowledge precludes distinguishing between an aim and a merely foreseen side effect. I propose a solution to this problem: the difference between aim and side effect should be understood in terms of the familiar Anscombean distinction between acting intentionally and the intention with which one acts. I also argue that this solution has advantages (...) over an alternative that has already been endorsed in the literature: it is a better fit for the Anscombean theory, and it naturally accommodates intuitions about the moral significance of aiming vs. merely foreseeing. (shrink)
Recent neuroscience and psychology of behavior have suggested that conscious decisions may have no causal role in the etiology of intentional action. Such results pose a threat to traditional philosophical analyses of action. On such views beliefs, desires and conscious willing are part of the causal structure of intentional action. But if the suggestions from neuroscience/psychology are correct, analyses of this kind are wrong. Conscious antecedents of action are epiphenomenal. This essay explores this consequence. It also notes that the traditional (...) alternative to causal analyses of intentional action is not threatened by the putative scientific findings. This, in turn, is ironic in that defenders of the noncausal accounts of action were thought to be in opposition to the natural sciences of action whereas the analyses in the causal style were "on the side of physicalism." This result is also assessed in what follows. (shrink)
In this innovative study of the relationship between persons and their bodies, E. J. Lowe demonstrates the inadequacy of physicalism, even in its mildest, non-reductionist guises, as a basis for a scientifically and philosophically acceptable account of human beings as subjects of experience, thought and action. He defends a substantival theory of the self as an enduring and irreducible entity - a theory which is unashamedly committed to a distinctly non-Cartesian dualism of self and body. Taking up the physicalist challenge (...) to any robust form of psychophysical interactionism, he shows how an attribution of independent causal powers to the mental states of human subjects is perfectly consistent with a thoroughly naturalistic world view. He concludes his study by examining in detail the role which conscious mental states play in the human subject's exercise of its most central capacities for perception, action, thought and self-knowledge. (shrink)
Introduction -- Rational explanation of belief -- Rational explanation of action -- (Non-human) animals and their reasons -- Rational explanation and rational causation -- Events and states -- Physicalism.
Mind in Action challenges the dominant view in contemporary philosophy that human action is driven by thoughts and desires much as a machine is made to function by the operation of physical causes. Bede Rundle rejects the materialist view of mind and the causal theory of action; his alternative approach elucidates such key concepts as thought, belief, desire, intention, and freedom to give a fresh view of human behavior.