About this topic
Summary

Plausibly, trying is an essential component of agency. But what is trying? Philosophers of action differ on trying’s nature and its relation to agency more broadly (e.g., its relationship to the will, to intentional action, and more): nothing like a consensus view on trying exists. Some view trying as a special act of the will; others that trying is simply a functional component of action – trying is identical to the effects of an intentions’s normal causal work. In the 20th Century trying generated some conceptual puzzles for philosophers of action: so, one finds discussion of questions about whether an agent can intend to try, whether an agent can desire to try to A without desiring to A, and whether an agent can try to do what she believes to be impossible. More recently, some have focused on the psychology of trying – including the experience of trying to do things – and have thus connected trying to the growing literature on the phenomenology of agency.

Key works

Some key works are indicated in the 'introductions.' For discussion of whether trying can serve as the centerpiece of an answer to the problem of action (the problem of distinguishing actions from non-actions), see Armstrong 1973. For some interesting work on trying and its relationship to certain experiences of agency (i.e., the experience of effort), see Dewey 1897, Preston & Wegner 2009, Lafargue & Franck 2009. For work on some of the conceptual puzzles surrounding trying, see Adams 1994, Ludwig 1995, Mele 1989, Mele 1994.

Introductions For important treatments of the nature of trying and its relationship to volition, see O'Shaughnessy 1973, McCann 1974, McCann 1975, Adams & Mele 1992.
  Show all references
Related categories
Siblings:See also:
85 found
Search inside:
(import / add options)   Sort by:
1 — 50 / 85
  1. Frederick Adams (1995). Trying. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:549-561.
    Sue knows that, unaided, she cannot lift the 1,000 pound weight, but surely she can try. Can she not? For even if she believes it is impossible to succeed in lifting the weight, trying to lift the weight need not involve success. So surely, it would seem that nothing could be easier than for Sue to give lifting the weight a try. In this paper, I agrue that, appearances aside, it is not possible for someone to try to do what (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  2. Frederick Adams (1994). Trying, Desire, and Desiring to Try. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24 (4):613 - 626.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  3. Frederick Adams (1991). He Doesn't Really Want to Try. Analysis 51 (2):109 - 112.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  4. Frederick Adams & Alfred R. Mele (1992). The Intention/Volition Debate. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 22 (3):323-337.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  5. D. M. Armstrong (1973). Acting and Trying. Philosophical Papers 2 (1):1-15.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  6. Bruce Aune (1974). Prichard, Action, and Volition. Philosophical Studies 25 (2):97 - 116.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  7. Myles Brand (1995). Hornsby on Trying. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:541-547.
    In “Reasons for Trying” (JPR, 1995), Jennifer Homsby rejects several views about trying, including the volitional account, which identifies trying with an ‘inner’ uniform mental occurrence leading to action and the instrumental view, which explicates trying as doing one thing in order to accomplish something else. She proffers, rather, an explication, which I label ‘the capacity view,’ that identifies trying with the agent doing all that she can to accomplish the goal. In this note, I argue, first, that Hornsby’s approach (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  8. Frederick Broadie (1965). Trying and Doing. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 66:27 - 40.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  9. Andrei A. Buckareff (2012). Mental Action. Edited by Lucy O'Brien and Matthew Soteriou. (Oxford UP, 2009. Pp. X + 286. Price £50.00). Philosophical Quarterly 62 (247):401-403.
  10. C. A. Campbell (1939). The Psychology of Effort of Will. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 40:49 - 74.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  11. Candidus (1955). Can I Decide To Do Something Immediately Without Trying To Do It Immediately? Analysis 16 (1):3-4.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  12. Timothy Cleveland (1992). Trying Without Willing. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (3):324 – 342.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  13. Michael Corrado (1983). Trying. American Philosophical Quarterly 20 (2):195 - 205.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  14. Lawrence H. Davis (1979). Theory of Action. Prentice Hall.
  15. John Dewey (1897). The Psychology of Effort. Philosophical Review 6 (1):43-56.
  16. B. Ellis (1955). Can I Decide To Do Something Immediately Without Trying To Do It Immediately? Analysis 16 (1):1-3.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  17. Paul Faulkner (2013). Really Trying or Merely Trying. Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 41 (3):363-380.
    We enjoy first person authority with respect to a certain class of actions: for these actions, we know what we are doing just because we are doing it. This paper first formulates an epistemological principle that captures this authority in terms of trying to act in a way that one has the capacity to act. It then considers a case of effortful action that threatens this principle. And proposes the solution of changing the metaphysics of action: one can keep hold (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  18. Jeffrey P. Fry (2011). On the Supposed Duty to Try One's Hardest in Sports. Philosophy in the Contemporary World 18 (2):1-10.
    It is a common refrain in sports discourse that one should try one's hardest in sports, or some other variation on this theme. In this paper I argue that there is no generalized duty to try one's hardest in sports, and that the claim that one should do so is ambiguous. Although a number of factors point in the direction of my conclusion, particularly salient is the claim that, in the end, the putative requirement is too stringent for creatures like (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  19. Ariel Furstenberg (2013). Proximal Intentions, Non-Executed Proximal Intentions and Change of Intentions. Topoi 33 (1):1-10.
    This paper investigates the conceptual and empirical possibility of non-executed, non-conscious proximal intentions, i.e., non-conscious proximal intentions to act that do not turn into a final act, but perhaps are vetoed or overcome by an alternative action. It constructs a conceptual framework in which such cases are justifiably considered ‘proximal intentions’. This is achieved by combining Alfred Mele’s notion of non-conscious proximal intentions together with the notion of trying or striving taken from Brian O’Shaughnessy’s model of action. With this framework (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  20. Carl Ginet (2004). Trying to Act. In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & David Shier (eds.), Freedom and Determinism. MIT Press.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  21. Michael Gorr (1979). Willing, Trying and Doing. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57 (3):237 – 250.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  22. O. H. Green (1994). Toe Wiggling and Starting Cars: A Re-Examination of Trying. Philosophia 23 (1-4):171-191.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  23. Meghan Griffith (2007). Freedom and Trying: Understanding Agent-Causal Exertions. [REVIEW] Acta Analytica 22 (1):16-28.
    In this paper, I argue that trying is the locus of freedom and moral responsibility. Thus, any plausible view of free and responsible action must accommodate and account for free tryings. I then consider a version of agent causation whereby the agent directly causes her tryings. On this view, the agent is afforded direct control over her efforts and there is no need to posit—as other agent-causal theorists do—an uncaused event. I discuss the potential advantages of this sort of view, (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  24. Thor Grünbaum (2008). Trying and the Arguments From Total Failure. Philosophia 36 (1):67-86.
    New Volitionalism is a name for certain widespread conception of the nature of intentional action. Some of the standard arguments for New Volitionalism, the so-called arguments from total failure, have even acquired the status of basic assumptions for many other kinds of philosophers. It is therefore of singular interest to investigate some of the most important arguments from total failure. This is what I propose to do in this paper. My aim is not be to demonstrate that these arguments are (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  25. Don F. Gustafson (1964). Discussions:Hampshire on Trying. Theoria 30 (1):31-38.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  26. Peter Ms Hacker (2000). Was He Trying to Whistle It? In Alice Crary & Rupert J. Read (eds.), The New Wittgenstein. Routledge.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  27. Peter Heath & Peter Winch (1971). Trying and Attempting. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 45:193 - 227.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  28. Charles Hermes (2006). Does Attempting to Try to A Imply Trying to A? Southwest Philosophy Review 22 (2):63-70.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  29. David Hitchcock (2011). Arguing as Trying to Show That a Target-Claim is Correct. Theoria 26 (3):301-309.
    ABSTRACT: In Giving Reasons, Bermejo-Luque rightly claims that a normative model of the speech act of argumentation is more defensible if it rests on an internal aim that is constitutive of the act of arguing than if it rests, as she claims existing normative models do, on an aim that one need not pursue when one argues. She rightly identifies arguing with trying to justify something. But it is not so clear that she has correctly identified the internal aim of (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  30. Jennifer Hornsby (1995). Reasons for Trying. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:525-539.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  31. Jennifer Hornsby (1980). Actions. Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    This book presents an events-based view of human action somewhat different from that of what is known as "standard story". A thesis about trying-to-do-something is distinguished from various volitionist theses. It is argued then that given a correct conception of action's antecedents, actions will be identified not with bodily movements but with causes of such movements.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  32. J. F. M. Hunter (1987). Trying. Philosophical Quarterly 37 (149):392-401.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  33. Frank Jackson (1982). I. Acting, Trying, and Essentialism. Inquiry 25 (2):255 – 262.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  34. O. R. Jones (1983). Trying. Mind 92 (367):368-385.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  35. Gilles Lafargue & Nicolas Franck (2009). Effort Awareness and Sense of Volition in Schizophrenia. Consciousness and Cognition 18 (1):277-289.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  36. Reza Lahroodi (2006). Evaluational Internalism, Epistemic Virtues, and the Significance of Trying. Journal of Philosophical Research 31:1-20.
    While there is general agreement about the list of epistemic virtues, there has been much controversy over what it is to be an epistemic virtue. Three competing theories have been offered: evaluational externalism, evaluational internalism, and mixed theories. A major problem with internalism, the focus of this paper, is that it disconnects the value of epistemic virtue from actual success in the real world (the Disconnection Problem). Relying on a novel thesis about the relation of “trying” and “exercise of virtue,” (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  37. Richard T. Lee (1991). What's the Good of Trying? Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 18 (1):39-48.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  38. John Lemos (2011). Wanting, Willing, Trying and Kane's Theory of Free Will. Dialectica 65 (1):31-48.
    Robert Kane's event-causal libertarian theory of free will has been subjected to a variety of criticisms. In response to the luck objection, he has provided an ambiguous answer which results in additional criticisms that are avoidable. I explain Kane's theory, the luck objection and Kane's reply to the problem of luck. I note that in some places he suggests that the dual wantings of agents engaged in self-forming actions (SFAs) provides the key to answering the luck objection, whereas in other (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  39. Kirk Ludwig, Trying the Impossible: Reply to Adams.
    This paper defends the autonomy thesis, which holds that one can intend to do something even though one believes it to be impossible, against attacks by Fred Adams. Adams denies the autonomy thesis on the grounds that it cannot, but must, explain what makes a particular trying, a trying for the aim it has in view. If the autonomy thesis were true, it seems that I could try to fly across the Atlantic ocean merely by typing out this abstract, a (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  40. Kirk Ludwig (2003). Causing Actions. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (2):295 – 297.
    Critical Notice of Causing Actions by Paul Pietroski,.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  41. Kirk Ludwig (1992). Impossible Doings. Philosophical Studies 65 (3):257 - 281.
    This paper attacks an old dogma in the philosophy of action: the idea that in order to intend to do something one must believe that there is at least some chance that one will succeed at what one intends. I think that this is a mistake, and that recognizing this will force us to rethink standard accounts of what it is to intend to do something and to do it intentionally.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  42. Kirk A. Ludwig (1995). Trying the Impossible. Journal of Philosophical Research 20:563-570.
    This paper defends the autonomy thesis, which holds that one can intend to do something even though one believes it to be impossible, against attacks by Fred Adams. Adams denies the autonomy thesis on the grounds that it cannot, but must, explain what makes a particular trying, a trying for the aim it has in view. If the autonomy thesis were true, it seems that I could try to fly across the Atlantic ocean merely by typing out this abstract, a (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  43. Christy Mag Uidhir (2010). Failed-Art and Failed Art-Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):381-400.
    An object being non-art appears only trivially informative. Some non-art objects, however, could be saliently 'almost' art, and therefore objects for which being non-art is non-trivially informative. I call these kinds of non-art objects 'failed-art' objects—non-art objects aetiologically similar to art-objects, diverging only in virtue of some relevant failure. I take failed-art to be the right sort of thing, to result from the right sort of action, and to have the right sort of history required to be art, but to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  44. Chauncey Maher (2008). Trying. Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (2):55-69.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  45. D. S. Mannison (1970). Armstrong on Trying and Intending. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 48 (2):252 – 255.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  46. Olivier Massin (2014). Quand Vouloir, c'est Faire [How to Do Things with Wants]. In R. Clot-Goudard (Dir.), L'Explication de L'Action. Analyses Contemporaines, Recherches Sur la Philosophie Et le Langage N°30, Paris, Vrin 30.
    This paper defends the action-theory of the Will, according to which willing G is doing F (F≠G) in order to make G happen. In a nutshell, willing something is doing something else in order to bring about what we want. -/- I argue that only the action-theory can reconcile two essential features of the Will. (i) its EFFECTIVITY: willing is closer to acting than desiring. (ii) its FALLIBILITY: one might want something in vain. The action-theory of the will explains EFFECTIVITY (...)
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  47. Hugh McCann (1975). Trying, Paralysis, and Volition. Review of Metaphysics 28 (3):423-442.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  48. Hugh J. McCann (1974). Volition and Basic Action. Philosophical Review 83 (4):451-473.
    The purpose of this paper is to defend the view that the bodily actions of men typicaly involve a mental action of voliton or willing, and that such mental acts are, in at least one important sense, the basic actions we perform when we do things like raise an arm, move a finger, or flex a muscle.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  49. Hugh J. McCann (1972). Is Raising One's Arm a Basic Action? Journal of Philosophy 64 (9):235-249.
    I hold no view as to what actions are basic, but I shall attempt to show in what follows that actions like raising an arm never are. My contention is that these actions involve actions of physical exertion on the part of the agent, the involvement being of a sort generally taken to be excluded by an actions being basic.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  50. Suzanne McCormick & Irving Thalberg (1967). Trying. Dialogue 6 (01):29-46.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
1 — 50 / 85