Volitionalism is a theory of action motivated by certain shortcomings in the standard causal theory of action. However, volitionalism is vulnerable to the objection that it distorts the phenomenology of embodied agency. Arguments for volitionalism typically proceed by attempting to establish three claims: (1) that whenever an agent acts, she tries or wills to act, (2) that it is possible for volitions to occur even in the absence of bodily movement, and (3) that in cases of (...) successful bodily actions the relation between volition and bodily movement is causal. I defend an argument for the second of these claims from an objection by Thor Grünbaum, but I show that several volitionalist arguments for the third are not compelling. I then argue that the dual aspect theory of action provides a better account of the relationship between an agent’s volition and the bodily movements she makes when she acts, insofar as it has the same advantages over the standard story as volitionalism without being open to the phenomenological objection. I also defend the dual aspect theory from an objection by A.D. Smith. Finally, I show why the dual aspect theory of action is a better alternative to volitionalism than the theory of action recently put forward by Adrian Haddock. In order to avoid the phenomenological objection Haddock suggests a disjunctive account of bodily movements. While disjunctivism should be taken seriously in the philosophy of action, on the dual aspect theory it is the category of volition, rather than bodily movement, that should receive a disjunctive analysis. (shrink)
Abstract This paper sketches a Levinasian theory of action. It has often been pointed out that Levinas' ethics are incapable of providing principles of adjudication for guiding actions. However, a much more profound problem affects Levinas' metaphysical ethics and negates the possibility of adjudication and that is a patent lack of freedom from the yoke of the ethical. If ?ethics is primordial? indeed, then no act can be unethical in that there is no alternative possibility to the acceptance (...) and performance of the law. In this paper, I will argue that it is from the totalization of the acceptance and performance of law ?implicit in the subject's action? that alternative possibilities become visible. This is to say, it is through totalization that the subject demarcates the locus for the emergence of principles, which can permit adjudication among different acts without negating the radical primacy of ethics, which is probably Levinas? greatest contribution to the field. (shrink)
Manifest Activity presents and critically examines the model of human power, the will, our capacities for purposeful conduct, and the place of our agency in the natural world of one of the most important and traditionally under-appreciated philosophers of the 18th century: Thomas Reid. For Reid, contrary to the view of many of his predecessors, it is simply manifest that we are active with respect to our behaviours; it is manifest, he thinks, that our actions are not merely remote products (...) of forces that lie outside of our control. Reid holds, instead, that actions are all and only those events that spring from active power and he produces insightful and imaginative arguments for the claim that only a creature with a mind is capable of having active power. He believes that only human beings, and creatures 'above us', are capable of directing events towards ends, of endowing them with purpose or direction, the distinctive feature of action. However, he also holds that all events, and not merely human actions, are products of active power, power possessed either by human beings or by God. This collection of theses leads Reid to the view that human behaviour and the progress of nature are both essentially teleological. Patterns in nature are the products of laws of which God is the author; patterns in human conduct are the products of character and the laws that individuals set for themselves. Manifest Activity examines Reid's arguments for this view and the view's implications for the nature of character, motivation and the special kind of causation involved in the production of human behavior. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give a new argument for naturalized actiontheory. The sketch of the argument is the following: the immediate mental antecedents of actions, that is, the mental states that makes actions actions, are not normally accessible to introspection. But then we have no other option but to turn to the empirical sciences if we want to characterize and analyze them.
Introduction : what's the problem? -- The problem may lurk in Aristotle's ethics -- Aristotle's akratic : foreshadowing a solution -- A negligent omission at the root of all sinfulness : Anselm and the Devil -- Negligent vs. non-negligent : a Thomistic distinction directing us toward a solution -- Can I have your divided attention? : Scotus, indistinct intellections, and type-1 negligent omissions almost solved -- I can't get you out of my mind : Scotus, lingering indistinct intellections, and type-2 (...) negligent omissions -- Scotus's affection-ate corrective : a possible final solution to a type-2 variant -- Neglected treatises help solve negligence : the actiontheory of Francisco Suarez -- An answer that cannot be neglected : the solution -- Appendix A : translation of Nicomachean ethics 1146b31-1147b19. (shrink)
The central propositional attitudes of belief, desire, and meaning are interdependent; it is therefore fruitless to analyse one or two of them in terms of the others. A method is outlined in this paper that yields a theory for interpreting speech, a measure of degree of belief, and a measure of desirability. The method combines in a novel way features of Bayesean decision theory, and a Quinean approach to radical interpretation.
Terrorism is an extreme, violent response to a failed political process engaging political regimes and ethnic and ideological adversaries over fundamental governance issues. Applying the theory of collective action, the author explains the dynamic of violence escalation and persistence. Recent Islamist terrorism stems from the conviction that a theocracy is the only answer to the multiple problems of Middle Eastern and Muslim countries. Checks on terrorism result both from external social control and from the internal contradictions of theocratic (...) states. (shrink)
A serious attempt to integrate ethics in management was done by Professor Juan Antonio Pérez López (1934–1996). His thought represents a break with current scholarly thinking on these subjects. The purpose of this article is to explain some of the most significant aspects of his theories, relating basically to his recourse to ethics as what defines the characteristic behavior of human beings, considered as individuals and as members of organizations. Pérez López used the anthropological conception underlying the ethics of Aristotle (...) and Thomas Aquinas to build a solid base for that ethics, starting from the decision-making process. He then used that ethical base to point to the kind of actiontheory and organization theory that could most effectively assist the human development of people and organizations. (shrink)
Rationality and Compulsion presents a unique examination of mental illness - derived from philosophical actiontheory. Delusion is common to many mental disorders, resulting in actions that, though perhaps rational to the individual, might seem entirely inappropriate or harmful to others. So what is it that causes these actions, and why do they continue? The theory expounded in this book shows how the key to this problem might be compulsion. -/- This book presents a new analysis of (...) the notion of compulsion - developed from actiontheory. The books starts with an introduction to actiontheory (for the benefit of non-philosophers). It then shows how insights from actiontheory can help us better understand mental illness, before developing an analysis of compulsion that emphasizes the element of unavoidability. The book argues that what is fundamentally disturbing to the person suffering from delusion is not so much the fact that the disorder tends to lead to irrational actions but rather the fact that he or she is unable to avoid performing these actions. The individual is or feels compelled to act in the way he or she does. The book contains some concrete illustrations of this idea as applied to several psychiatric diagnoses, such as paranoia, phobia, and psychopathy. -/- Rationality and Compulsion is a highly original new work from a leading figure in the philosophy and psychiatry movement. It will advance our understanding of mental illness, and be valuable for psychiatrists, psychologists, as well as philosophers. (shrink)
The article tries to demonstrate how the tools and perspectives of actiontheory may be used in philosophy of medicine and medical ethics. In the first part, some concepts and principles of actiontheory are reconstructed and used to sketch a view of medicine as a science of actions. The second part is a contribution to the discussion on medical ethics in the same issue of this journal and consists in a detailed analysis of the main (...) arguments and critical remarks from the point of view of actiontheory. (shrink)
The overwhelming majority of action theories have relied on a Humean model of causality and of explanation; even those theories that explicitly reject aspects of that model uncritically adopt others. The atomistic presuppositions embodied in the model are unable to account for either the dynamic and fabric-like nature of action or the features of control and meaning present therein. It is these atomistic presuppositions that give rise to the “Gettier-like vexations” that are common counterexamples in action (...) class='Hi'>theory. The Humean requirement that cause and effect be only contingently connected and generalizable into a covering law is also discussed with respect to the explanation of action.Representatives of the three major approaches to the problem of action: causal (including intentional, volitional, as well as agent causation and reasons-as-causes theories), behaviorist, so-called “contextual”, and teleological theories are examined. (shrink)
Philosophical interest in intentional action has flourished in recent decades. Typically, action theorists propose necessary and sufficient conditions for a movement's being an action, conditions derived from a conceptual analysis of folk psychological action ascriptions. However, several key doctrinal and methodological features of contemporary actiontheory are troubling, in particular (i) the insistence that folk psychological kinds like beliefs and desires have neurophysiological correlates, (ii) the assumption that the concept of action is "classical" (...) in structure (making it amenable to definition in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions for its proper application), and (iii) the assumption that deferring to intuitions about the application of the concept of action amidst the context of fantastical thought experiments furnishes an effective method for judging the adequacy of proposed analyses. After consideration of these problems it is argued that actiontheory needs to be reoriented in a more naturalistic direction, the methods and aims of which are continuous with those of the empirical sciences. The paper concludes with a sketch (and defense) of the methodological foundations of a naturalistic approach to intentional action. (shrink)
Recent work in the theory of action by analytical philosophers has focused on explaining actions by citing the agent's motivating reason(s). But this ignores a pattern of explanation typical in the social sciences, i.e. situating the agent in a reference group whose members typically manifest that behavior. In some cases the behavior of such groups can itself be shown to be the product of social forces. Two extended examples of this explanatory pattern are studied. In each case the (...) motivating reasons of the agents concerned can scarcely be understood apart from reference to the groups of which the agents are members and the social forces which work on those groups. However, attention to the agent's own reasons for action remains important, in part because of actiontheory's critical potential to help liberate people from arbitrary, hypostasized social forces. (shrink)
The problem of ‘wayward causal chains’ threatens any causal analysis of the concept of intentional human action. For such chains show that the mere causation of an action by the right sort of belief and/or desire does not make the action intentional, i.e. one done in order to attain the object of desire. Now if the ‘because’ in ‘wayward’ action-explanations is straightforwardly causal, that might be argued to indicate by contrast that the different ‘because’ of reasons-explanations (...) (which both explain and justify) is non-causal. Myles Brand, in Intending and Acting (1984), resists this conclusion, but argues that waywardness shows that philosophers must ‘naturalize’ actiontheory by drawing on contemporary work in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. I argue that this is a misconceived response to the problem of waywardness: in Brand’s work actiontheory itself has gone astray, unsure which way to tum next. (shrink)
A comparison of disjunctive theories of action and perception. The development of a theory of action that warrants the name, a disjunctive theory. On this theory, there is an exclusive disjunction: either an action or an event (in one sense). It follows that in that sense basic actions do not have events intrinsic to them.
In these essays, Hugh J. McCann develops a unified perspective on human action. Written over a period of twenty-five years, the essays provide a comprehensive survey of the major topics in contemporary actiontheory. In four sections, the book addresses the ontology of action; the foundations of action; intention, will, and freedom; and practical rationality. McCann works out a compromise between competing perspectives on the individuation of action; explores the foundations of action and (...) defends a volitional theory; argues for a libertarian view of both the formation and the execution of intention; and considers the question of consistency in rational intentions, as well as the relationship between practical and theoretical reasoning. -/- Among the original features of McCann's work are his defense of both fine- and coarse-grained actions and his arguments for a noncausal theory of the relation between intention and action. He also suggests that intentions need not be consistent, either with each other or with beliefs about success. And he contends that intention formation is an intrinsically ratiocinative procedure, distinct from reasoning about what action would be best. (shrink)
The major claims of this dissertation are that there is a discrete mode of action that we can identify as spontaneity, that spontaneity in this sense is fundamentally based on affectivity, and that it is most accurately described as aesthetic spontaneity. Aesthetic spontaneity is a mode of action overlooked in Western philosophy but prized and cultivated in Far Eastern thought and lately described in detail by psychologists. The qualifier "aesthetic" is added to "spontaneity" to distinguish it from the (...) spontaneity often referred to in Western metaphysics, particularly in reference to free will. -/- In contemporary philosophy, action has most often been analyzed in relation to intention in an attempt to uncover its factors of incipience, with relatively little attention given to modes of action. This dissertation will address such issues as intention and free will but in a peripheral way as they pertain to particular historical topics under discussion. The focus instead will be on understanding the modality of spontaneity. -/- The earliest extensive account of aesthetic spontaneity is found in the early Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi, roughly contemporaneous with Plato. In order to understand Zhuangzi's account, however, on must first confront two outstanding issues in his work, both of which bear on his understanding of affectivity. Zhuangzi's terminology can often be opaque, and one of his most notoriously difficult terms is translated by A. C. Graham as "essential" and by Victor Mair as "emotion." The term in Chinese is qing 情, which in later Chinese thought unequivocally bears the meaning of emotion but at this early date means something more akin to an environmental affectivity. In Chapter 1, I delineate this meaning in some detail by looking at the uses of qing in a range of early Chinese works, with the aim of demonstrating definitively that the term does, contra Graham, have affective connotations and that they are essential to understanding Zhuangzi's notion of aesthetic spontaneity. On the whole, Zhuangzi's attitude toward affectivity appears ambiguous, which is the second issue I approach. On the one hand, he advocates an open acceptance, even an active fascination, with all natural transformations, including those of an individual's body, but on the other hand, he appears to suggest that affective transformations should be dampened or overcome. In order to speak authoritatively about Zhuangzi's notion of affectivity, this apparent contradiction requires elucidation. -/- In the second chapter, I begin a fuller exploration of affectivity, beginning with a neglected side of Plato. First, drawing on the work of Suzanne Langer, Alfred North Whitehead, and Robert Solomon, I expand the notion of affectivity to include all cognitive activity in an attempt to reintegrate the Platonic body and mind. At first glance, this may appear to be an impossible task, but I find a significant amount of evidence in works other than the Republic (the work usually chosen for examination of his psychology) to support this claim, and by delineating a notion of aesthetic affectivity going back to the original meaning of aesthetics in Baumgarten that includes all sensibilities of the human being, I am able to reconstruct a notion of an integrated self in Plato that contradicts Charles Taylor's divided Platonic self. After coming to a physiological understanding of aesthetic affectivity in Plato, I turn to Aristotle for an understanding of the need for cultivated aesthetic affectivity. While the integrated body and mind is receiving quite a bit of attention in contemporary philosophy, the notion of self-cultivation is not. After reviewing the evidence for such a need in Aristotle, I turn to Richard Schusterman's pragmatic aesthetics to demonstrate how the notion of self-cultivation can still contribute to a robust contemporary philosophical anthropology, and this understanding will contribute to the notion of cultivating aesthetic spontaneity in Chapter 5. -/- In Chapter 3, I undertake a nuanced definition of "spontaneity" by going back to Zhuangzi. I analyze a significant number of passages of Zhuangzi that center on descriptions of spontaneous activity and distill out aspects that may serve as a heuristic definition of "spontaneity", namely, holistic fluency. I identify wholeness as entailing processes of collection (calm focus) and shedding (of distractions, consideration of rewards, discursive knowledge, selfishness, the external form of an object, etc.). Fluency involves responsiveness and ease and is derivative of wholeness. The purpose of delineating a definition of spontaneity is to be able to work with it as a useful philosophical concept, something that has not been possible up to now. In this chapter, I engage the work of Angus Graham, who has done the most with the notion of spontaneity, and of Hans Georg Gadamer, comparing his work on ease with a Zhuangzian notion. After defining spontaneity, I canvass the history of Western philosophy in an attempt to find terms of our tradition that may be useful in incorporating a Zhuangzian notion of spontaneity into contemporary philosophy. There is also the need to clear the air of other uses of the term "spontaneity" that could create confusion. I begin with notions of automaton, physis, and hexis in Aristotle, move on to Chryssipus and Epicurus, then because talk of spontaneity is dominated by the free will vs. determinism debate for the next 1,500 or more years, I skip to Rousseau. With Rousseau, and later Mill, I demonstrate how an early paradox of spontaneity persists, suggesting that this paradox rests on certain metaphysical assumptions and how one cannot speak of Zhuangzian spontaneity under those assumptions. I also entertain Kant and McDowell's notions of cognitive spontaneity and a related notion in Sartre. Schiller's and Gadamer's notions of play are also considered. Most important in all these considerations, perhaps, is grasping the contemporary, scientific understanding of emergent order. By understanding spontaneity in thoroughly naturalistic terms and by clearing the air of the roadblock of free-will, I pave the way for a viable theoretic understanding of aesthetic spontaneity. -/- Unlike popular notions of spontaneity, Daoist spontaneity involves more than impulsiveness. In Chapter 4, I explain that the aesthetic of spontaneity relies on a notion of experience that arises out of complex interaction with our environment that is conceptualized by Daoists as the chaos of the inchoate, a primal disorder that is the seat of potent creativity. Through the Daoists Laozi and Zhuangzi, and drawing on John Dewey's theory of experience, I show how aesthetic experience relies on a reservoir of inchoate potential in achieving spontaneous action. I also draw on John Dewey in formulating the role of habit in spontaneity. Habit can be conceived as a trigger or spring that releases spontaneous actions, but Dewey also says that there must be more to spontaneous action than habit. I clarify this issue and take preliminary steps to providing a resolution. -/- Continuing with the issue the theory of spontaneous action from earlier chapters, in chapter 5, I offer a fully conceptualized account of spontaneous action. First, I reiterate the relationship of spontaneity to affectivity by explaining how affectivity understood as responsiveness culminates in an ideal that we call spontaneity. I then offer a new categorization of the arts into "active" and "non-active", a distinction that brings into focus the fact that the aesthetic value of some arts relies on the actions in the process of the creation or performance of a work. These works cannot be experienced apart from actions, and it is the spontaneity of the actions, I argue, that contributes to the success of the works. -/- . (shrink)
Introduction : action, thought, pragmatism -- Neo-pragmatism and its critics -- Methodology : reconstructive dialectics -- A history of actiontheory -- Defining actions -- The explanation of action -- A material explication of agency -- Agency and existence.
The question "Why?" that is deployed in these exchanges evidently bears the "special sense" Elizabeth Anscombe has linked to the concepts of intention and of a reason for action; it is the sort of question "Why?" that asks for what Donald Davidson later called a "rationalization".2 The special character of what is given, in each response, as formulating a reason ── a description, namely, of the agent as actually doing something, and, moreover, as..
Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in (...) turn motivates the action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
From a moral point of view we think of ourselves as capable of responsible actions. From a scientific point of view we think of ourselves as animals whose behavior, however highly evolved, conforms to natural scientific laws. Natural Agency argues that these different perspectives can be reconciled, despite the skepticism of many philosophers who have argued that "free will" is impossible under "scientific determinism." This skepticism is best overcome according to the author, by defending a causal theory of (...) class='Hi'>action, that is by establishing that actions are constituted by behavioral events with the appropriate kind of mental causal history. He sets out a rich and subtle argument for such a theory and defends it against its critics. Thus the book demonstrates the importance of philosophical work in actiontheory for the central metaphysical task of understanding our place in nature. (shrink)
A common criticism of free will or origination theories is that if what we do is not the result of an unbroken sequence of causes and effects, then it must to some degree be the product of chance. But in what sense can a chance act be intentional or deliberate, in what sense can it be based on reasons, and in what sense can a person be held responsible for it? If free and responsible action is incompatible with determinism, (...) must it not equally well be incompatible with indeterminism? Professor McCall says no. He argues that a new idea, that of a controlled indeterministic process, resolves a variety of classical dilemmas and opens the way to a new understanding of the relationship between actions, reasons, causes, and responsibility. Does he succeed? All of this, like a related line of argument by Professor McCann to which you can turn, is a long way from what seems to me the continuing arguableness of determinism and the unavoidableness of the proposition that both incompatibilism and compatibilism about freedom are false. But we all need to remember, with Cromwell, in our own bowels if not by those of Christ, that we may be mistaken. I guess that given the proportion of false to true views in the world, we need to remember it is arguable that we are more likely to be mistaken. (shrink)
Schumpeter's writings on the transition from capitalism to socialism, on innovative entrepreneurship, on business cycles, and on the modern corporation have attracted much attention among social scientists. Although Schumpeter's theoretical and sociological writings resemble the works of Marx, Durkheim, and Weber in that they further our understanding of the rise and nature of modern society, his contribution to social theory has yet to be assessed systematically. Arguing that Schumpeter's perspective, if understood in social theoretical terms, provides a promising starting (...) point for the sociological analysis of the changing relationship between economy and society, I concentrate on two elements of his work that are of value to theoretical sociology today: the distinction between creative action and rational action that is fundamental to his theory of the entrepreneur, and his thesis that the success of the capitalist system leads to its demise. (shrink)
The out?dated intentionalistic assumptions manifest in Habermas's Theory of Communicative Action undermine a solution to the problem of order in actiontheory beyond utilitarianism. An analysis of his intersubjectivistic conception, which is based on the theory of the speech?act, shows that the incompleteness of Habermas's linguistic turn is due to his attempt to revive the older Critical Theory's concept of critique. The claims for a scientifically well?founded revival of a universal concept of reason ? (...) which are asserted in this concept ? invalidate the intersubjectivistic paradigm in actiontheory and therefore obstruct the way to a de?individualized formulation of the theory of social contract that avoids the paradox of utilitarian models. (shrink)
Skilled activity, such as shaving or dancing, differs in important ways from many of the stock examples that are employed by action theorists. Some critics of the causal theory of action contend that such a view founders on the problem of skilled activity. This paper examines how a causal theory can be extended to the case of skilled activity and defends the account from its critics.
The causal theory of action has been the standard view in the philosophy of action and mind. In this chapter, I will present responses to two challenges to the theory. The first says, basically, that there is no positive argument in favour of the causal theory, as the only reason that supports it consists in the apparent lack of tenable alternatives. The second challenge says that the theory fails to capture the phenomenon of agency, (...) as it reduces activity to mere happenings (events and event-causal processes). This is often referred to as the problem of "disappearing agency". My main aim is to show that there is no problem of disappearing agency, and we will see that my response to the first challenge will be conducive to this end. I will present a positive argument for the causal theory on the basis of considerations concerning the metaphysics of agency, and I will suggest that we "own" the agency that springs from our mental states and events "by default". (shrink)
b>. The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. The guidance theory offers a way of fixing representational content that gives the causal and evolutionary history of the subject only an indirect (non-necessary) role, and an account of representational error, based on failure of action, that does not rely on any such notions (...) as proper functions, ideal conditions, or normal circumstances. Moreover, because the notion of error is defined in terms of failure of action, the guidance theory meets the. (shrink)
Extensive interest in business ethics has developed accompanied by an increase in empirical research on the determinants of unethical conduct. In setting forth the theory of reasoned action, Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) maintained that research attention on such variables as personality traits and demographic characteristics is misplaced and, instead, researchers should focus on behavioral intentions and the beliefs that shape those intentions. This study summarizes business ethics research which tests the theory of reasoned action and suggests (...) directions for further research. (shrink)
Academic social scientists and professional practitioners could increase the effectiveness of their undertakings to advance positive change toward solving social and organizational problems by more effectively combining their efforts. Historically, both realms have used reductionist techniques and methodologies that are unsuited for understanding and solving problems in social and organizational systems. Their efforts could be significantly enhanced by using a grounded theory/grounded action approach. Grounded theory/grounded action is designed to generate explanations directly from data that provide (...) a theoretical foothold for effecting optimal and sustainable change in social and organizational systems. (shrink)
This significant, stimulating contribution to Kantian practical philosophy strives to interpret Kant’s theory of action in ways that will increase readers’ understanding and appreciation of Kant’s moral theory. Its thesis is that Kant combines metaphysical freedom and psychological determinism: our actions within the phenomenal world are causally determined by our prior psychological states in that world and are appearances of our free action in the noumenal world. McCarty argues for a metaphysical, “two-worlds” interpretation of Kant’s transcendental (...) distinction between appearances and things in themselves over epistemological or methodological “two-standpoints” interpretations familiar from Christine Korsgaard .. (shrink)
The research methodologies of grounded theory and grounded action are framed by a systems perspective, from which they contribute their own unique properties and processes to the evolution of systems thinking. The author provides definitions for systems, theory, grounded theory, grounded action, and systems thinking, and explores the relationships between theory, grounded theory/grounded action, and systems thinking with regard to purpose, context, and usefulness for the resolution of social concerns and systemic change.
The concept of right or fit is an important element entailed, but not fully articulated, in the concept of action or practice in Aristotle’s theory of virtue; which, however, turns to be of the utmost importance in later Western ethics. Right is concerned with both feelings and actions, and is not the same for all individuals. It lies in between the two extremes of the spectrum of practical affairs, yet by no means equidistant from them. This account of (...) the concept of fitness or right is derived from the categories of quantity, relationship, and quality rather than from that of substance. Thus, it seems that virtue is relative to vice or error within a continuous existence. If, however, the right of passion and action is environmental and concrete, is it multiple and not singular? To this question, Aristotle gives his reply on two levels: On the level of concrete practitioners, what is right and fit to one man might not be so to another man, and hence the right of practice is not singular but multiple; whereas on the level concerned with the only right choice compared with the two extremes or errors, the right of practice will always be singular. (shrink)
This study is a comparison of the validity of theory of reasoned action and theory of planned behavior as applied to the area of moral behavior (i.e., illegal copying of software) using structural equation modeling. Data were collected from 181 university students on the various components of the theories and used to asses the influence of attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control on the intention to make unauthorized software copies. Theory of planned behavior was found (...) to be better than the theory of reasoned action in predicting unethical behavior. A modified version of the theory of planned behavior, with a causal path linking subjective norm to attitude, provided a significant improvement on model fit. The results indicated that perceived behavioral control is a better predictor of behavioral intention then attitude. The direct effect of subjective norm on behavioral intention was not significant, but the indirect effect through attitude was highly significant. Applicability of the theory of planned behavior for moral behavior and the implications for future research are discussed. (shrink)
The paper begins with a discussion of Russell's view that the notion of cause is unnecessary for science and can therefore be eliminated. It is argued that this is true for theoretical physics but untrue for medicine, where the notion of cause plays a central role. Medical theories are closely connected with practical action (attempts to cure and prevent disease), whereas theoretical physics is more remote from applications. This suggests the view that causal laws are appropriate in a context (...) where there is a close connection to action. This leads to a development of an action-related theory of causality which is similar to the agency theory of Menzies and Price, but differs from it in a number of respects, one of which is the following. Menzies and Price connect ‘A causes B’ with an action to produce B by instantiating A, but, particularly in the case of medicine, the law can also be linked to the action of trying to avoid B by ensuring that A is not instantiated. The action-related theory has in common with the agency theory of Menzies and Price the ability to explain causal asymmetry in a simple fashion, but the introduction of avoidance actions together with some ideas taken from Russell enable some of the objections to agency accounts of causality to be met. Introduction Russell on causality Preliminary exposition of the action-related theory Differences between the action-related theory and the agency theory of Menzies and Price Explanation of causal asymmetry Objections to the action-related theory Extension of the theory to the indeterminate case. (shrink)
According to a familiar objection to Davidson's causal theory of action, reasons are not causes qua reasons unless explanations of actions fit reason and action into a nomic nexus. The focus of this criticism should really be redirected to the issue of whether or not Davidson's theory provides an account of the explanatory force of explanations of actions.
b>. The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. We offer a brief account of the biological origins of representation, a formal characterization of the guidance theory, some examples of its use, and show how the guidance theory handles some traditional problem cases for representation: the problems of error and of representation of (...) fictional and abstract entities. (shrink)
The grounded theory research method embodies a crucial element of postmodernist thinking due to its aversion to theory verification and its ability to imbue analysts with the power to discover theory. These processes closely mirror systems thinking because they allow for holistic examination. Postmodern systems thinking combines the worldview of postmodernism with systems thinking, creating a mechanism that is both respectful to the variations of human interaction and the need for "de-compartmentalizing" complex systems. The postmodern systems thinking (...) framework united with grounded action research could be a potent approach for the dissemination of localized, culture-specific ideas in countries susceptible to Western hegemony. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to make a critical assessment of Krister Segerberg''s theory of action. The first part gives a critical presentation of the key concepts in Segerberg''s informal theory of action. These are the ideas that motivate the formal models he develops. In the second part it is argued that if one takes all of Segerberg''s motivating ideas seriously, problems are forthcoming. The main problem is that on this theory the agents seem (...) to be bound to realize all of their intentions, a problem that stems from Segerberg''s attempt to individuate actions in terms of the agent''s intentions. On the ground that this unfortunate result is forthcoming in both of Segerberg''s approaches to the logic of action it is concluded that the conceptual basis of the theory is problematic. (shrink)
The author discusses the contributions of grounded theory and grounded action to the development of a new, and evolutionary, theoretical framework for understanding diversity as a complex phenomenon. She discusses the work of Thomas and Gregory as pioneers in expanding the conceptualization of diversity, arguing that this new understanding increases the potential for creative action in systems.
Research on children's developing theories of mind has contributed to our understanding of the developmental relation of self and action (1) by exploring the relation of the development of self knowledge to the development of knowledge of others' minds and (2) by investigating the relation between theory of mind development and the development of action control. We argue that evidence on theory of mind reasoning in children with deficient action control (ADHD-diagnosed children) is especially relevant (...) to the second issue and we present some first evidence supporting the bi-directional hypothesis, that is, the view that theory of mind leads to improved action control which in turn supports the ability to represent mental states on-line. (shrink)
This paper gives a new, proof-theoretic explanation of partial-order reasoning about time in a nonmonotonic theory of action. The explanation relies on the technique of lifting ground proof systems to compute results using variables and unification. The ground theory uses argumentation in modal logic for sound and complete reasoning about specifications whose semantics follows Gelfond and Lifschitz’s language . The proof theory of modal logic A represents inertia by rules that can be instantiated by sequences of (...) time steps or events. Lifting such rules introduces string variables and associates each proof with a set of string equations; these equations are equivalent to a set of partial-order tree-constraints that can be solved efficiently. The defeasible occlusion of inertia likewise imposes partial-order constraints in the lifted system. By deriving an auxiliary partial order representation of action from the underlying logic, not the input formulas or proofs found, this paper strengthens the connection between practical planners and formal theories of action. Moreover, the general correctness of the theory of action justifies partial-order representations not only for forward reasoning from a completely specified start state, but also for explanatory reasoning and for reasoning by cases. (shrink)
Action-based legal theory is a discrete branch of praxeology and the basis of an emerging school of jurisprudence related to, but distinct from, natural law. Legal theory and economic theory share content that is part of praxeology itself: the action axiom, the a priori of argumentation, universalizable property theory, and counterfactual-deductive [...].
The standard mathematical apparatus of classical electromagnetic theory in Minkowski space-time allows an interpretation in terms of retarded distant action, as well as the standard field interpretation. This interpretation is here presented and defended as a scientifically significant alternative to the field theory, casting doubt upon the common view that classical electromagnetic theory provides scientific support for the physical existence of fields as fundamental entities. The various types of consideration normally thought to provide evidence for the (...) existence of the electromagnetic field are surveyed and analyzed in retarded distant action terms, from both a contemporary viewpoint and with regard to the late 19th century context within which the field theory was first generally accepted. It is concluded that acceptance of the field as real is not evidentially justified in either context, and that the customary historical explanation of the triumph of field theory as due to its empirical superiority is inadequate. An alternative explanation is suggested but not developed, appealing to non-empirical factors associated with the research program based on the conservation of energy. (shrink)
Recent authors have raised objections to the counterfactual interpretation of the Aharonov-Bergmann-Lebowitz (ABL) rule of time-symmetrised quantum theory (TSQT). I distinguish between two different readings of the ABL rule, counterfactual and non-counterfactual, and confirm that TSQT advocate L. Vaidman is employing the counterfactual reading to which these authors object. Vaidman has responded to the objections by proposing a new kind of time-symmetrised counterfactual, which he has defined in two different ways. It is argued that neither definition succeeds in overcoming (...) the objections, except in a limited special case previously noted by Cohen and Hiley. In addition, a connection is made between TSQT and Price's concept of 'advanced action', which further supports the special case discussed. (shrink)
The paper explores the relation between reason and action as it emerges from the texts of Äyurveda. Life or Ayus (commonly understood as life-span) is primary subject matter of Ayurveda. Life is a locus of experience, action and disposition. Experiences and actions are differentially determined by dispositions that characterize the organism; otherwise all living organisms will be identical. Ayus of each living being is uniquely individual and remains constant between birth and death. In this journey, upkeep of ayus (...) is the purpose of Äyurveda or science of life. Ayurveda is a science of experienced matter as well as of experienced body. The living body is critically dependent on the influx of matter for its upkeep. Äyurveda offers a conceptual system to reason about balance and imbalances of the system and the causal role of the material flux through the system. This sensate matter is causally open and makes room for definite causal role for the individual and the effective insertion of the felt-purpose of action. Some of the strengths of Ayurveda are brought forth in the paper such as (a) reasoning out the compatibility between the bodily processes and the selection of the natural products for diet and drug, (b) role for heuristics in medical diagnosis, which takes into cognizance the particularity of each living body and the teleology evident in the very act of diagnostic reasoning. The paper shows that Äyurvedic theory is built on experiential datum whereas scientific medical theory is built on experience-independent datum. Äyurveda explores causal efficacy of âsecondary qualitiesâ whereas scientific medicine explores causal efficacy of âprimary qualitiesâ. The actionable experiential reasoning is at the foundations of Äyurveda whereas modern medical science is ab initio saddled with difficult âhiatus theoreticusâ between theory and practice. For Ayurveda it is experience of qualities that discloses behavior of matter. The types of qualities that appear in experience have a special significance for theorizing about the actions of matter with the help of qualities. The paper explores the relation between experience of qualities and the method of science. It shows how efficacy of medical practice is based on the foundational stance of experiential realism in theory. To bring the point home, the paper borrows Aristotalian concepts to show how the relation between phantasm and phronesis is honored in the very theory of Äyurveda. (shrink)
I focus on North America, a locale with nations financially well-situated to avoid the worst of climate change harms for the longest duration through financial buttressing (at least for a subset of the population). Environmental action is often taken when one is affected negatively in direct and concrete ways. It is therefore unfortunate that populations with the most fiscal and political power have the greatest ability to avoid the sorts of environmental harm that pragmatically necessitate an immediate and comprehensive (...) response. Within North America I focus my analysis on the population whose job it is to advance moral theory, namely practicing ethicists. I also focus on their students—those intellectually .. (shrink)
When two or more people coordinate their actions in space and time to produce a joint outcome, they perform a joint action. The perceptual, cognitive, and motor processes that enable individuals to coordinate their actions with others have been receiving increasing attention during the last decade, complementing earlier work on shared intentionality and discourse. This chapter reviews current theoretical concepts and empirical findings in order to provide a structured overview of the state of the art in joint action (...) research. We distinguish between planned and emergent coordination. In planned coordination, agents' behavior is driven by representations that specify the desired outcomes of joint action and the agent's own part in achieving these outcomes. In emergent coordination, coordinated behavior occurs due to perception action couplings that make multiple individuals act in similar ways, independently of joint plans. We review evidence for the two types of coordination and discuss potential synergies between them. (shrink)
Vital Democracy outlines a theory of democracy in action, based on four elementary forms of democracy - pendulum, consensus, voter and participatory democracy - that are thoroughly analysed, compared and related to both the literature and the real world of democracy. Just like a few primary colours produce an array of shades, a few basic models of democracy appear, the author argues, to constitute a wide range of democratic variants in real life. Focusing on tried and tested democratic (...) institutions, Frank Hendriks shows that the four models of democracy - with their divergent patterns of leadership, citizenship and governance, their inherent strengths and weaknesses - are never purely instantiated. He argues that wherever democracy is practiced with some level of success, it is always as hybrid democracy, thereby challenging those democratic reformers and theorists that have inspired the quest for democratic purity. -/- Vital Democracy builds on Arend Lijphart's well-known work which distinguishes between majoritarian and consensual democratic countries but also goes well beyond it, urging attention to non-national, non-formal, and non-representative expressions of democracy as well. (shrink)
The possibility of collective action is essential to human freedom. Yet, as Rousseau famously argued, individuals acting together allow themselves to depend on one another’s choices and thereby jeopardize one another’s freedom. These two facts jointly constitute what I call the normative problem of collective action. I argue that solving this problem is harder than it looks. It cannot be done merely in terms of moral obligations; indeed, it ultimately requires putting in place a full-ﬂedged system of contract (...) rights. The point has important ramiﬁcations for contract theory. The role that contract rights play in reconciling collective action and freedom turns out to be crucial to understanding how—and by whom—these rights can legitimately be enforced. It also explains why expectation damages should be the standard remedy for breach of contract. (shrink)
Consider the following dilemma for non-reductive physicalism. If mental events cause physical events, they merely overdetermine their effects, given the causal closure of the physical. And if mental events cause only other mental events, they do not make the kind of difference we want them to. This dilemma can be avoided once the dichotomy between physical and mental events is dropped. Mental events make a real difference if they cause actions. But actions, I will argue, are neither mental nor physical (...) events. Actions are realized by physical events, but they are not type-identical with them. This gives us non-reductive physicalism without downward causation. The tenability of such a view has been questioned. Jaegwon Kim, in particular, has argued that every version of non-reductive physicalism is committed to downward causation. But the nature action, I will argue, allows us to avoid this commitment. (shrink)
Recent work in cognitive science suggests that conscious thought plays a much less central role in the production of human behavior than most think. Partially on the basis of this work, Peter Carruthers has advanced the claim that humans never consciously decide to act. This claim is of independent interest for actiontheory, and its potential truth poses a problem for theories of free will and autonomy, which often take our capacity to consciously decide to be of central (...) importance. In this article, I examine the nature of conscious deciding and I argue that Carruthers fails to establish the claim that humans never consciously decide to act. (shrink)
In what follows, I will contend that the commonsense view of ourselves as fundamental causal agents - for which some have used the term “unmoved movers" but which I think might more accurately be expressed as “not wholly moved movers” - is theoretically understandable, internally consistent, and consistent with what we have thus far come to know about the nature and workings of the natural world. In the section that follows, I try to show how the concept of ‘agent’ causation (...) can be understood as a distinct species (from ‘event’ causation) of the primitive idea, which I’ll term “causal production”, underlying realist or non-Humean conceptions of event causation. In section III, I respond to a number of contemporary objections to the theory of agent causation. Sections IV-V are devoted to showing that the theory is compatible with ordinary reasons explanations of action, which then places me in a position to respond, in the final section, to the contention that we could never know, in principle, whether the agency theory actually describes a significant portion of human activity. (shrink)
This short paper, forthcoming as part of a symposium on experimental philosophy to appear in the popular publication, The Philosophers’ Magazine (including contributions by Papineau, Stich, Machery, Sommers, and Knobe), offers an accessible summary of seven years of experimental-philosophical research into intentional action attributions.
This book deals with foundational issues in the history of the nature of action, the intentionality of action, the compatibility of freedom of action with determinism, and the explanation of action. Ginet's is a volitional view: that every action has as its core a "simple" mental action. He develops a sophisticated account of the individuation of actions and also propounds a challenging version of the view that freedom of action is incompatible with determinism.
Is human freedom and choice exaggerated in recent social theory? Should agency be the central in sociology? In this, penetrating and assured book, one of the leading commentators in the field asks where social theory is going. Barnes argues that social theory has taken the wrong turn in over-stating individual freedom. The result is that social contexts in which all individual actions are situated, is dangerously under-theorized. Barnes calls for a form of social theory that recognizes (...) that sociability is the essential characteristic of human life. It is our capacity to communicate with each other, and plan for each other’s welfare, that makes us truly human. Once this is allowed, notions of “agency”, “freedom”, and “choice” lose their connotation with free-floating individualism. Instead the embedded character of agency is starkly revealed. This is a model of well-informed and balanced analysis. It will be of interest to students of sociology, philosophy and social theory. (shrink)
For over thirty years, Robert Audi has produced important work in ethics, epistemology, and the theory of action. This volume features thirteen new critical essays on Audi by a distinguished group of authors: Fred Adams, William Alston, Laurence BonJour, Roger Crisp, Elizabeth Fricker, Bernard Gert, Thomas Hurka, Hugh McCann, Al Mele, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Raimo Tuomela, Candace Vogler, and Timothy Williamson. Audi's introductory essay provides a thematic overview interconnecting his views in ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of action. The (...) volume concludes with his comprehensive response essay that yields an illuminating dialog with all his critics and often extends his previous work. (shrink)
Activity theory is an interdisciplinary approach to human sciences that originates in the cultural-historical psychology school, initiated by Vygotsky, Leont'ev, and Luria. It takes the object-oriented, artifact-mediated collective activity system as its unit of analysis, thus bridging the gulf between the individual subject and the societal structure. This volume is the first comprehensive presentation of contemporary work in activity theory, with 26 original chapters by authors from ten countries. In Part I of the book, central theoretical issues are (...) discussed from different points of view. Some topics addressed in this part are epistemology, methodology, and the relationship between biological and cultural factors. Part II is devoted to the acquisition and development of language - a theme that played a central role in the work of Vygotsky and Luria. This part includes a chapter that analyzes writing activity in Japanese classrooms, and an original case study of literacy skills of a man with cerebral palsy. Part III contains chapters on play, learning, and education, and part IV addresses the meaning of new technology and the development of work activities. The final part covers issues of therapy and addiction. (shrink)
The utilitarian conception, which I call “action as production,” holds that action is a way of making use of the world, conceived as a causal mechanism. According to the rational intuitionist conception, which I call “action as assertion,” action is a way of acknowledging the value in the world, conceived as a realm of status. On the Kantian constructivist conception, which I call “action as participation,” action is a way of making the world, qua (...) causal mechanism, come to count as a realm of status. My rather limited aim in this paper is to identify three substantively different answers the question of how action relates an agent to the world, regarded as a context of action. (shrink)
This paper considers the connection between automaticity, control and agency. Indeed, recent philosophical and psychological works play up the incompatibility of automaticity and agency. Specifically, there is a threat of automaticity, for automaticity eliminates agency. Such conclusions stem from a tension between two thoughts: that automaticity pervades agency and yet automaticity rules out control. I provide an analysis of the notions of automaticity and control that maintains a simple connection: automaticity entails the absence of control. An appropriate analysis, however, shows (...) that actions are forms of control and pervasively automatic even if automaticity implies the absence of control. Consequences are drawn for the theory of mental agency and the psychological concepts of automaticity and control. (shrink)
It is widely held that belief explanations of action are a species of causal explanation. This paper argues against the causal construal of action explanation. It first defends the claim that unless beliefs are brain states, beliefs cannot causally explain behavior. Second, the paper argues against the view that beliefs are brain states. It follows from these claims that beliefs do not causally explain behavior. An alternative account is then proposed, according to which action explanation is teleological (...) rather than causal, and the paper closes by suggesting that teleological account makes sense of and supports the autonomy of common sense psychology. (shrink)