A Companion to the Philosophy of Action offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action. -/- * The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action (the central issues and processes relating to human actions) * Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts * Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, (...) and rational agency in evolutionary perspective * Individual chapters also cover prominent historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur * Can be approached as a complete narrative, but also serves as a work of reference * Offers rich insights into an area of philosophical thought that has attracted thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks. (shrink)
Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the social sciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psychological explanation are some of the topics discussed by these leading participants. A particular emphasis is laid on trust, commitments and (...) social institutions, on the possibility of grounding social notions in individual social attitudes, on the nature of social groups, institutions and collective intentionality, and on common belief and common knowledge. Applications to the social sciences include, e.g., a look at the Erklären-Verstehen controversy in economics, and at constructivist and realist views on archeological reconstructions of the past. (shrink)
The basic subject matter of the philosophy of action is a pair of questions: (1) What are actions? (2) How are actions to be explained? The questions call, respectively, for a theory of the nature of action and a theory of the explanation of actions. Donald Davidson has articulated and defended influential answers to both questions. Those answers are the primary focus of this chapter.
Philosophers of action tend to take for granted the concept of basic actions – actions that are done at will, or directly – as opposed to others that are performed in other ways. This concept does foundational work in action theory; many theorists, especially causalists, take part of their task to be showing that normal, complex actions necessarily stem from basic ones somehow. The case for the concept of basic actions is driven by a family of observations and (...) a cluster of closely related anti-infinite regress arguments. I review this case in the work of Arthur Danto, Donald Davidson, and Jennifer Hornsby – three of the most important developers of the concept – and find it lacking. I conclude by sketching the possibility of non-foundationalist action theory. (shrink)
In terms of my own first-personal narrative, the most obvious proximal cause of my theorizing about agency was a graduate seminar on free will taught by Peter van Inwagen. It was my first semester of graduate school, and van Inwagen’s forceful presentation of incompatibilism made a big impression on me. I left that course thinking incompatibilism was both obvious and irrefutable. The only problem was that I didn’t stay at Notre Dame. I transferred to Stanford in the following year, where (...) I discovered the truth of a remark John Fischer once made: Indiana is for Incompatibilists and California is for Compatibilists. Some of the folks there who most influenced me, especially Michael Bratman and Ken Taylor, are thoroughgoing compatibilists. I was really struck by the fact that both of these smart, thoughtful guys seemed genuinely puzzled by the impulse to incompatibilism. I wasn’t entirely ready to give up on my incompatibilism (which was by then shifting from libertarianism to hard incompatibilism), but I felt a need to be able to find some way to reconcile it with an appreciation for the appeal that compatibilism clearly seemed to have for some otherwise compelling philosophers. And, so my interest in thinking about free agency and free action began to take root. So, that’s the intellectualized part of the story. But there is also the fact of my local conditions when all of this was going on. For good or ill, I kept taking seminars where the problem of free will would crop up in the course of things. Out of sheer laziness (or, as I like to think about it, out of a dimly sensed need to conserve my energies for later), I kept seizing on the topic as a subject matter for seminar papers, whether the course was on Hume, Aristotle, Nietzsche, philosophy of mind, or philosophyaction. Thus, when it came time to write a dissertation, free will seemed like an obvious choice.. (shrink)
Like many people, I was initially attracted to free will issues – at first embracing hard determinism, as part of a general rejection of doctrines associated with religion, though exposure to Kant’s views in my first philosophy course made me begin to consider nonreligious grounds for an indeterminist conception of free action. Of course, Kant also takes belief in God and immortality as presupposed by moral agency, but I was never much moved by those arguments. On free will, (...) though, I thought seeing my acts as determined would give me a reason to expend less effort on them. (shrink)
Scholars working in philosophy of action still struggle with the freedom/determinism dichotomy that stretches back to Hellenist philosophy and the metaphysics that gave rise to it. Although that metaphysics has been repudiated in current philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the dichotomy still haunts these fields. As such, action is understood as distinct from movement, or motion. In early China, under a very different metaphysical paradigm, no such distinction is made. Instead, a notion of self-caused (...) movement, or spontaneity, is elaborated. In this article a general conception of spontaneity from early Daoism is explained, detailing its constituent aspects. Similar notions appeared from time to time in Western philosophy, and these instances are pursued, exploring how their instantiations differed from Daoist spontaneity and why. Based on these approximate examples of spontaneity and on early Daoist spontaneity, new criteria are postulated for a plausible theory of action that dispenses with presuppositions that eventuate in a freedom/determinism dichotomy, and instead the possibility is offered of a general model of action that can be applied smoothly across current philosophical and cognitive scientific subdisciplines. (shrink)
This paper argues that contemporary philosophy of mind and action could learn much from the structure of action explanation manifested in ancient Greek tragedy, which is less deterministic than typically supposed and which does not conflate the motivation of action with its causal production.
The latest offering in the highly successful Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, The Philosophy of Action features contributions from twelve leading figures in the field, including: Robert Audi, Michael Bratman, Donald Davidson, Wayne Davis, Harry Frankfurt, Carl Ginet, Gilbert Harman, Jennifer Hornsby, Jaegwon Kim, Hugh McCann, Paul Moser, and Brian O'Shaughnessy. Alfred Mele provides an introductory essay on the topics chosen and the questions they deal with. Topics addressed include intention, reasons for action, and the nature (...) and explanation of internal action. A selective bibliography is included as a guide to further reading. Comprehensive and up-to-date, this collection provides an accessible and stimulating introduction for readers interested in the philosophy of action, the philosophy of mind, and moral philosophy. (shrink)
Many important thinkers in the philosophical tradition, like Aristotle or Hume, have used an explicit theory of action as the basis of their respective normative theories of practical rationality and morality. The idea behind this architecture of theories is that action theory can inform us about the origin, bonds, reach and limits of practical reason. The aim of this book is to revive this direct connection between action theory and practical philosophy, in particular to provide systematic (...)action-theoretical underpinnings for the discussion about the normative structure of practical reason. This book brings together a collection of specially commissioned essays from internationally prestigious scholars in the field and represents the state of the art in contemporary philosophy of action. The book is divided into three parts: i. conceptual work about what actions, intentions and intentional actions are; ii. empirical theory of practical deliberation; and iii.theories about the action theoretic features of autonomy. The volume significantly advances these three lines of research and offers important new contributions to each of them. (shrink)
This work provides, for the first time, a unified account of the theory of action presupposed by both British and American criminal law and its underlying morality. It defends the view that human actions are volitionally caused body movements. This theory illuminates three major problems in drafting and implementing criminal law--what the voluntary act requirement does and should require, what complex descriptions of actions prohibited by criminal codes both do and should require, and when the two actions are the (...) "same" for purposes of assessing whether multiple prosecutions and multiple punishments are warranted. The book contributes to the development of a coherent theory of action in philosophy. It provides a grounding in three of the most basic elements of criminal liability for legislators, judges, and the lawyers who argue to them. (shrink)
Martin Hollis (d.1998) was arguably the most incisive, eloquent and witty philosopher of the social sciences of his time. His work is appreciated and contested here by some of the most eminent of contemporary social theorists. Hollis's philosophy of social action, routinely distinguished between understanding (rational) and explanation (causal). He argued that the aptest account of human interaction was to be made in terms of the first. Thus he focused upon the human reasons, for, rather than upon the (...) natural causes of, action. This volume, for the first time, brings together important essays on the work of Hollis, from many different perspectives. These include politics, sociology and economics in general; international relations, rational choice theory, constitutionalism and the rule of law as well as current concerns with relativism, Rousseauist contractarianism, "dirty hands" and "buck-passing". (shrink)
Thrasymachus versus Socrates on philosophy and political action -- 1647: the history of the leveller-agitators and the new model army -- Hobbes' and Locke's metaphysics: substances no longer act, institutions act -- Hobbes and Locke on religious conflict: when institutions act, subjects act -- Hobbes and Locke on politics: sovereign action and contractual action -- Unveiling the forgotten model: the leveller-agitators on joint action.
Davidson's seminal essay "Actions, Reasons and Causes" brought about a paradigm shift in the theory of action. Before Davidson the consensus was that the fundamental task of a theory of action was to elucidate the concept of action and event explanation. The debate concerning the nature of action explanation thus took place primarily in the philosophy of history and social science and was focussed on purely methodological issues. After Davidson it has been assumed that the (...) fundamental challenge for the theory of action is to answer not the conceptual question "what does it mean to explain something as an action?", but a metaphysical question, namely, "how is causal over-determination by the mental and the physical possible?". I argue that the two main considerations Davidson provides for construing the question posed by the action/event distinction in metaphysical rather than conceptual terms are inconclusive and that much is to be learned from the conceptual approach championed by Collingwood and Dray in the context of their philosophy of history. (shrink)
The aim of this book is to provide an in-depth account of Hegel’s writings on human action as they relate to contemporary concerns in the hope that it will encourage fruitful dialogue between Hegel scholars and those working in the philosophy of action. During the past two decades, preliminary steps towards such a dialogue were taken, but many paths remain uncharted. The book thus serves as both a summative document of past interaction and a promissory note of (...) things to come. We begin this introduction with some general words regarding the philosophy of action before singling out reasons for exploring Hegel’s thought in relation to it. We next present a brief overview of studies conducted to this day, followed by a thematic appraisal of the contributions appearing in this volume. (shrink)
This paper considers whether, and if so how, the modelling of joint action in social philosophy – principally in the work of Margaret Gilbert and Michael Bratman – might assist in understanding and applying the concept of concerted practices in European competition law. More specifically, the paper focuses on a well-known difficulty in the application of that concept, namely, distinguishing between concerted practice and rational or intelligent adaptation in oligopolistic markets. The paper argues that although Bratman’s model of (...) joint action is more psychologically plausible and phenomenologically resonant, its less demanding character also makes it less useful than Gilbert’s in our understanding of the legal concept of concerted practice and in dealing with the above difficulty. The paper proceeds in two parts: first, a discussion of the concept of concerted practices in European competition law; and second, a discussion of Gilbert and Bratman’s models of joint action, including a comparative assessment of their ability to provide an evidentiary target and an evidentiary platform for concerted practices. (shrink)
This volume focuses on Hegel's philosophy of action in connection to current concerns. Including key papers by Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, and John McDowell, as well as eleven especially commissioned contributions by leading scholars in the field, it aims to readdress the dialogue between Hegel and contemporary philosophy of action. Topics include: the nature of action, reasons and causes; explanation and justification of action; social and narrative aspects of agency; the inner and the outer; (...) the relation between intention, planning, and purposeful behaviour; freedom and responsibility; and self-actualisation. This book will appeal alike to Hegel scholars and philosophers of action. List of Contributors: Katerina Deligiorgi, Stephen Houlgate, Dudley Knowles, Arto Laitinen, Alasdair Macintyre, John Mcdowell, Francesca Menegoni, Dean Moyar, Terry Pinkard, Robert B. Pippin, Michael Quante, Constantine Sandis, Hans-Christoph Schmidt Am Busch, Allen Speight, Charles Taylor, Allen W. Wood. (shrink)
Passion and Action is an exploration of the role of the passions in seventeenth-century thought. Susan James offers fresh readings of a broad range of thinkers, including such canonical figures as Hobbes, Descartes, Malebranche, Spinoza, Pascal, and Locke, and shows that a full understanding of their philosophies must take account of their interpretations of our affective life. This ground-breaking study throws new light upon the shaping of our ideas about the mind, knowledge, and action, and provides a historical (...) context for burgeoning current debates about the emotions. (shrink)
Understanding human beings and their distinctive rational and volitional capacities is one of the central tasks of philosophy. The task requires a clear account of such things as reasons, desires, emotions and motives, and of how they combine to produce and explain human behaviour. In Kinds of Reasons, Maria Alvarez offers a fresh and incisive treatment of these issues, focusing in particular on reasons as they feature in contexts of agency. Her account builds on some important recent work in (...) the area; but she takes her main inspiration from the tradition that receives its seminal contemporary expression in the writings of G.E.M. Anscombe, a tradition that runs counter to the broadly Humean orthodoxy that has dominated the theory of action for the past forty years. Alvarez's conclusions are therefore likely to be controversial; and her bold and painstaking arguments will be found provocative by participants on every side of the debates with which she engages. Clear and directly written, Kinds of Reasons aims to stake out a distinctive position within one of the most hotly contested areas of contemporary philosophy. (shrink)
The sources and methods of espionage, the goals and tactics of covert action, and the professional conduct of intelligence officers are matters typically hidden from public scrutiny, yet clearly worthy of public debate and philosophical attention. Recent academic studies of intelligence that have had any intentional bearing on ethics or political philosophy have largely focused on procedural questions surrounding the proper degree of oversight of intelligence agencies. But what is often missed in such examinations is substantive ethical analysis (...) of intelligence operations themselves. (shrink)
A primary fault line in the analytic philosophy of action is the debate between causal/Davidsonian and interpretivist/Anscombian theories of action. The fundamental problem of the former is producing a criterion for distinguishing intentional from non-intentional causal chains; the fundamental problem of the latter is producing an account of the relation between reasons and actions that is represented by the ‘because’ in the claim that the agent acted because she had the reason. It is argued that Hegel’s conception (...) of teleology can be used to develop the interpretivist position by solving both its and the causal theory’s fundamental problems. (shrink)
Alfred R. Mele (2005). Action. In Frank Jackson & Michael Smith (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy. Oxford University Press.score: 48.0
What are actions? And how are actions to be explained? These two central questions of the philosophy of action call, respectively, for a theory of the nature of action and a theory of the explanation of actions. Many ordinary explanations of actions are offered in terms of such mental states as beliefs, desires, and intentions, and some also appeal to traits of character and emotions. Traditionally, philosophers have used and refined this vocabulary in producing theories of the (...) explanation of intentional actions. An underlying presupposition is that common-sense explanations expressed in these terms have proved very useful. People understand their own and others' actions well enough to coordinate and sustain complicated, cooperative activities integral to normal human life, and that understanding is expressed largely in a common-sense psychological vocabulary. This article focuses on these issues. (shrink)
The article tries to demonstrate how the tools and perspectives of action theory may be used in philosophy of medicine and medical ethics. In the first part, some concepts and principles of action theory 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 action theory. (shrink)
In this paper I review the different opinions held by scientists and philosophers as regards the status of the action-at-a-distance concept within relativistic physics. It is shown that in spite of the fact that the prevailing opinion has been that special relativity precludes actions at a distance, some important physicists have continued employing that concept throughout the present century. The key to understand that “anomalous” behaviour lies, in fact, in the relationships existent between quantum and classical physics (“inverse” principle (...) of correspondence). (shrink)
Gideon Yaffe presents a ground-breaking work which demonstrates the importance of philosophy of action for the law. Many people are serving sentences not for completing crimes, but for trying to. So the law governing attempted crimes is of practical as well as theoretical importance. Questions arising in the adjudication of attempts intersect with questions in the philosophy of action, such as what intention a person must have, if any, and what a person must do, if anything, (...) to be trying to act. Yaffe offers solutions to the difficult problems courts face in the adjudication of attempted crimes. He argues that the problems courts face admit of principled solution through reflection either on what it is to try to do something; or on what evidence is required for someone to be shown to have tried to do something; or on what sentence for an attempt is fair given the close relation between attempts and completions. The book argues that to try to do something is to be committed by one's intention to each of the components of success and to be guided by those commitments. Recognizing the implications of this simple and plausible position helps us to identify principled grounds on which the courts ought to distinguish between defendants charged with attempted crimes. (shrink)
Action is a fresh and engaging introduction to the many philosophical problems associated with agency and is ideally suited for students taking courses in philosophy of action, philosophy of mind and metaphysics.
Did Adam and Eve act rationally in eating the fruit of the forbidden tree? That can seem to depend solely on whether they had found the best means to their ends, in the spirit of the 'economic' theories of rationality. Martin Hollis respects the elegance and power of these theories but judges their paradoxes endemic. He argues that social action cannot be understood by viewing human beings as abstract individuals with preferences in search of satisfaction, nor by divorcing practical (...) reason from questions of the rationality of norms, principles, practices and ends. These essays, focused on the themes of 'rational choice', 'roles and reasons' and 'other cultures, other minds', make the point and explore alternative approaches. Culled in revised form from twenty-five years' work, the essays range across periods and disciplines with a philosophical imagination and vivid prose, which will engage philosophers and social scientists alike. (shrink)
This volume brings together Seth Benardete's studies of Hesiod's Theogony, Homer's Iliad, and Greek tragedy, of eleven Platonic dialogues, and Aristotle's Metaphysics. These essays, some never before published, others difficult to find, span four decades of his work and document its impressive range. Benardete's philosophic reading of the poets and his poetic reading of the philosophers share a common ground that makes this collection a whole. The key, suggested by his reflections on Leo Strauss in the last piece, lies in (...) the question of how to read Plato. Benardete's way is characterized not just by careful attention to the literary form that separates doctrine from dialogue, and speeches from deed rather, by following the dynamic of these differences, he uncovers the argument that belongs to the dialogue as a whole. The "turnaround" such an argument undergoes bears consequences for understanding the dialogue as radical as the conversion of the philosopher in Plato's image of the cave. Benardete's original interpretations are the fruits of this discovery of the "argument of the action.". (shrink)
This book is concerned with the role of economic philosophy ("ideas") in the processes of belief-formation and social change. Its aim is to further our understanding of the behavior of the individual economic agent by bringing to light and examining the function of non-rational dispositions and motivations ("passions") in the determination of the agent's beliefs and goals. Drawing on the work of David Hume and Adam Smith, the book spells out the particular ways in which the passions come to (...) affect our ordinary understanding and conduct in practical affairs and the intergenerational and interpersonal transmission of ideas through language. Concern with these problems, it is argued, lies at the heart of an important tradition in the British moral philosophy. This emphasis on the non-rational nature of our belief-fixation mechanisms has important implications: it helps to clarify and qualify the misleading claims often made by utilitarian, Marxist, Keynesian, and neo-liberal economic philosophers, all of whom stress the overriding power of ideas to shape conduct, policy, and institutions. (shrink)
This is a response to Andrei Buckareff and Jing Zhu, who in "Causalisms Reconsidered" criticize my argument in, primarily, "Considering Causalisms" and, secondarily, in "Does Philosophy of Action Rest on a Mistake?".
This article was conceived as a sequel to “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” The paper addresses various challenges to the standard account of the explanation of intentional action in terms of desire and means-end belief, challenges that didn’t occur to me when I wrote “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” I begin by suggesting that the attraction of the standard account lies in the way in which it allows us to unify a vast array of otherwise diverse types of (...) class='Hi'>action explanation. I go on to consider a range of other challenges to the standard account of the explanation of action: Rosalind Hursthouse’s challenge based on the possibility of what she calls “arational” actions (Hursthouse 1991); Michael Stocker’s challenge based on the idea that some explanations of action are nonteleological (Stocker 1981); Mark Platts’s challenge based on the idea that our evaluative beliefs can sometimes explain our actions all by themselves (Platts 1981); a voluntarist challenge based on the possibility of explaining actions by the exercise of self-control; and a challenge from Jonathan Dancy based on the idea that reasons can themselves sometimes explain actions all by themselves (Dancy 1994). (shrink)
Finland is internationally known as one of the leading centers of twentieth century analytic philosophy. This volume offers for the first time an overall survey of the Finnish analytic school. The rise of this trend is illustrated by original articles of Edward Westermarck, Eino Kaila, Georg Henrik von Wright, and Jaakko Hintikka. Contributions of Finnish philosophers are then systematically discussed in the fields of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, ethics and social (...)philosophy. Metaphilosophical reflections on the nature of philosophy are highlighted by the Finnish dialogue between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, pragmatism, and critical theory. (shrink)
On the basis of the Weber, Jaspers, and Arendt style ‘ideal types’ of the manager as Eichmann, Richard III, and Faust it is explained how under strong organizational pressures to obey orders and further organizational ends, different types of managers cooperate with organization behavior that harms people. On the basis of Arendt's and Tillich's action philosophies, the manager as Institution Citizen with the courage to be both as oneself and as a part is presented as alternative, contrast, and resistance (...) model to the other ‘ideal types’, particularly to the Eichmann ‘ideal type’. (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)
This paper suggests that young people can explore moral philosophy in ways that will help them both think and act in ways that are consistent with good moral reasoning. It describes several games and exercises that allow children to explore various moral principles in their behavior toward others. Participating in activities that give children practice in making moral decisions helps them to appreciate the role of principles in moral reasoning. The author contends that it is important for young people (...) to examine ethical dilemmas from the “inside out”; that is, not by listening to the wisdom of philosophers telling them how to approach these issues, but by facing them head on themselves. (shrink)
Introduction : action, thought, pragmatism -- Neo-pragmatism and its critics -- Methodology : reconstructive dialectics -- A history of action theory -- Defining actions -- The explanation of action -- A material explication of agency -- Agency and existence.
Philosophers and economists write about collective action from distinct but related points of view. This paper aims to bridge these perspectives. Economists have been concerned with rationality in a strategic context. There, problems posed by “coordination games” seem to point to a form of rational action, “team thinking,” which is not individualistic. Philosophers’ analyses of collective intention, however, sometimes reduce collective action to a set of individually instrumental actions. They do not, therefore, capture the first person plural (...) perspective characteristic of team thinking. Other analyses, problematically, depict intentions ranging over others’ actions. I offer an analysis of collective intention which avoids these problems. A collective intention aims only at causing an individual action, but its propositional content stipulates its mirroring in other minds. (shrink)
Experimental philosophers have gathered impressive evidence for the surprising conclusion that philosophers' intuitions are out of step with those of the folk. As a result, many argue that philosophers' intuitions are unreliable. Focusing on the Knobe Effect, a leading finding of experimental philosophy, we defend traditional philosophy against this conclusion. Our key premise relies on experiments we conducted which indicate that judgments of the folk elicited under higher quality cognitive or epistemic conditions are more likely to resemble those (...) of the philosopher. We end by showing how our experimental findings can help us better understand the Knobe Effect. (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.
Is the thought that having a reason for action can also be the cause of the action for which it is the reason coherent? This is an attempt to say exactly what is involved in such a thought, with special reference to the case of con-reasons, reasons that count against the action the agent eventually choses.
Dans cet article, nous introduisons le lecteur à une énigme qui a émergé récemment dans la littérature philosophique : celle de l’influence de nos évaluations morales sur nos intuitions au sujet de la nature des actions intentionnelle. En effet, certaines données issues de la philosophie expérimentale semblent suggérer que nos jugements quant au statut intentionnel d’une action dépendent de notre évaluation de ladite action. De nombreuses théories ont été proposées pour rendre compte de ces résultats. Nous défendons la (...) thèse selon laquelle aucune des théories existantes n’est satisfaisante et que le mystère reste pour l’instant entier. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give a new argument for naturalized action theory. 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.
Dewey's conception of inquiry is often criticized for misdescribing the complexities of life that outstrip the reach of intelligence. This article argues that we can ascertain his subtle account of inquiry if we read it as a transformation of Aristotle's categories of knowledge: episteme, phronesis, and techne. For Dewey, inquiry is the process by which practical as well as theoretical knowledge emerges. He thus extends the contingency Aristotle attributes to ethical and political life to all domains of action. Knowledge (...) claims become experimental, the result of which makes them revisable in the context of experience. As a result, when we say a person (e.g., scientist, craftsman, or citizen) displays practical wisdom we are reading their judgments within a complex horizon, whose success as judgments require alertness and discernment of salient features in response to an uncertain environment. Contrary to his critics, he seeks to make us attuned to the world's inescapable, and sometimes, tragic complexity. (shrink)
Nietzsche holds that people lack freedom of the will in any sense that would be sufficient for ascriptions of moral responsibility; that the conscious experience we have of willing is actually epiphenomenal with respect to the actions that follow that experience; and that our actions largely arise through non-conscious processes (psychological and physiological) of which we are only dimly aware, and over which we exercise little or no conscious control. At the same time, Nietzsche, always a master of rhetoric, engages (...) in a “persuasive definition” (Stevenson 1938) of the language of “freedom” and “free will,” to associate the positive valence of these terms with a certain Nietzschean ideal of the person unrelated to traditional notions of free will. (shrink)
The study of rationality and practical reason, or rationality in action, has been central to Western intellectual culture. In this invigorating book, John Searle lays out six claims of what he calls the Classical Model of rationality and shows why they are false. He then presents an alternative theory of the role of rationality in thought and action. -/- A central point of Searle's theory is that only irrational actions are directly caused by beliefs and desires—for example, the (...) actions of a person in the grip of an obsession or addiction. In most cases of rational action, there is a gap between the motivating desire and the actual decision making. The traditional name for this gap is "freedom of the will." According to Searle, all rational activity presupposes free will. For rationality is possible only where one has a choice among various rational as well as irrational options. -/- Unlike many philosophical tracts, Rationality in Action invites the reader to apply the author's ideas to everyday life. Searle shows, for example, that contrary to the traditional philosophical view, weakness of will is very common. He also points out the absurdity of the claim that rational decision making always starts from a consistent set of desires. Rational decision making, he argues, is often about choosing between conflicting reasons for action. In fact, humans are distinguished by their ability to be rationally motivated by desire-independent reasons for action. Extending his theory of rationality to the self, Searle shows how rational deliberation presupposes an irreducible notion of the self. He also reveals the idea of free will to be essentially a thesis of how the brain works. (shrink)
The tension in evidence-based practice and reflective practice -- The relationship between reflection and action research -- An overview of theories of consciousness and unconsciousness -- What do we mean by creativity? -- Using metaphor and symbolism as analysis -- Infinite possibilities of knowing and transformation -- Concluding thoughts; the linkages to action research and critical creativity.
Social action is central to social thought. This centrality reflects the overwhelming causal significance of action for social life, the centrality of action to any account of social phenomena, and the fact that conventions and normativity are features of human activity. This book provides philosophical analyses of fundamental categories of human social action, including cooperative action, conventional action, social norm governed action, and the actions of the occupants of organizational roles. A distinctive feature (...) of the book is that it applies these theories of social action categories to some important moral issues that arise in social contexts such as the collective responsibility for environmental pollution, humanitarian intervention, and dealing with the rights of minority groups. Avoiding both the excessively atomistic individualism of rational choice theorists and implausible collectivist assumptions, this important book will be widely read by philosophers of the social sciences, political scientists and sociologists. (shrink)