About this topic
Summary "Action Theory" as it is used here is the sub-area in the philosophy of action/agency that is concerned chiefly with the foundations of the broader sub-discipline. Central problems include the nature and scope of intentional action and agency, the explanation of action, and our knowledge of our actions. Most of the other problems that fall within the scope of this category at PhilPapers are closely related to such foundational questions.
Key works Perhaps the two most influential works that have shaped the current state of action theory are Anscombe 1957 and Davidson 1963. Davidson's essay is the locus classicus for the causal theory of action and for causalism about reason-explanations of actions. Anscombe's book has been influential among proponents of non-causal theories of action and reason-explanation. For a classic defense of the agent-causal perspective, see Chisholm 1966. And for a volitionist perspective, see McCann 1974. Some collections of essays that may help readers get a sense of the major debates in action theory today include Mele 1997, Aguilar & Buckareff 2010, Aguilar & Buckareff 2009, and D'Oro & Sandis 2013.
Introductions The following are good places to start to for those looking for guides to the current state of the art in action theory. Mele 2005 Mele 1992 Wilson 2008
Related categories
Subcategories:
Moral Responsibility* (2,592 | 444)
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  1. Transformative Experiences.Marcus Arvan - 2020 - In International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley-Blackwell.
  2. How the Law Guides.Joshua Pike - 2021 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 41 (1):169-191.
    The concept of guidance lies at the heart of normativity. It follows, according to the common view that the law necessarily claims to be normative, that guidance must play a central role in understanding the law. This article focuses on two questions about guidance: what distinguishes normative guidance from non-normative guidance; and what is involved in using something as a reason and as a norm so that we are normatively guided by that something. In doing so, two features of how (...)
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  3. What Are Institutional Groups?Miguel Garcia-Godinez - 2020 - In Miguel Garcia-Godinez, Rachael Mellin & Raimo Tuomela (eds.), Social Ontology, Normativity and Law. Berlin: pp. 39-62.
  4. Rationaler Altruismus. Eine prudentielle Theorie der Rationalität und des Altruismus.Christoph Lumer - 2009 - Paderborn: Mentis.
    RATIONAL ALTRUISM. A PRUDENTIAL THEORY OF RATIONALITY AND ALTRUISM - STRUCTURE: "Rational altruism" is the attempt to develop and rationally justify moral principles - with a very strong emphasis on this justification. The concept of justification is developed in a metaethical part (ch. 2); it requires recourse to prudential decisions and to information about our decision-making procedures. The actual normative ethics (Ch. 6 and especially 7) is therefore still based on a prudential desirability theory (Ch. 4 and Sections 5.5-5.6) and (...)
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  5. Rejecting Dreyfus’ Introspective ‘Phenomenology’. The Case for Phenomenological Analysis.Alexander A. Jeuk - 2021 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 20 (1):117-137.
    I argue that Hubert Dreyfus’ work on embodied coping, the intentional arc, solicitations and the background as well as his anti-representationalism rest on introspection. I denote with ‘introspection’ the methodological malpractice of formulating ontological statements about the conditions of possibility of phenomena merely based on descriptions. In order to illustrate the insufficiencies of Dreyfus’ methodological strategy in particular and introspection in general, I show that Heidegger, to whom Dreyfus constantly refers as the foundation of his own work, derives ontological statements (...)
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  6. Success and Knowledge in Action: Saving Anscombe’s Account of Intentionality.Markus Kneer - 2021 - In Tadeusz Ciecierski & Paweł Grabarczyk (eds.), Context Dependence in Language, Action, and Cognition. De Gruyter. pp. 131-154.
    According to Anscombe, acting intentionally entails knowledge in ac- tion. This thesis has been near-universally rejected due to a well-known counter- example by Davidson: a man intending to make ten legible carbon copies might not believe with confidence, and hence not know, that he will succeed. If he does, however, his action surely counts as intentional. Damaging as it seems, an even more powerful objection can be levelled against Anscombe: while act- ing, there is as yet no fact of the (...)
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  7. Self-Control: A Mental Action in No Need of Special Motivational Powers.Sebastian Watzl - forthcoming - In M. Brent (ed.), Mental Action and the Conscious Mind.
    It has been argued that the explanation of self-control requires positing special motivational powers. Some think that we need will-power as an irreducible mental faculty; others that we need to think of the active self as a dedicated and depletable pool of psychic energy or – in today more respectable terminology – mental resources; finally, there is the idea that self-control requires postulating a deep division between reason and passion – a deliberative and an emotional motivational system. This essay argues (...)
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  8. Intention, Character, and Double Effect.Lawrence Masek - 2018 - Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.
    The principle of double effect has a long history, from scholastic disputations about self-defense and scandal to current debates about terrorism, torture, euthanasia, and abortion. Despite being widely debated, the principle remains poorly understood. In Intention, Character, and Double Effect, Lawrence Masek combines theoretical and applied questions into a systematic defense of the principle that does not depend on appeals to authority or intuitions about cases. Masek argues that actions can be wrong because they corrupt the agent's character and that (...)
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  9. Pain Experiences and Their Link to Action: Challenging Imperative Theories.Sabrina Coninx - 2020 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 27 (9-10):104-126.
    According to pure imperativism, pain experiences are experiences of a specific phenomenal type that are entirely constituted by imperative content. As their primary argument, proponents of imperativism rely on the biological role that pain experiences fulfill, namely, the motivation of actions whose execution ensures the normal functioning of the body. In the paper, I investigate which specific types of action are of relevance for an imperative interpretation and how close their link to pain experiences actually is. I argue that, although (...)
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  10. Der Unterschied zwischen Töten und Sterbenlassen und die Bedeutung von Handlungssphären.Ralf Stoecker - 2020 - In Jan Christoph Bublitz, Jochen Bung, Anette Grünewald, Dorothea Magnus, Holm Putzke & Jörg Scheinfeld (eds.), Recht - Philosophie - Literatur. Festschrift für Reinhard Merkel zum 70. Geburtstag. Berlin, Deutschland: Duncker & Humblot. pp. 649-666.
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  11. What is Economics For?Brendan Hogan - 2020 - In Peter Rona, Laszlo Zolnai & Agnieszka Wincewicz-Price (eds.), Words, Objects and Events in Economics: The Making of Economic Theory.
    The methodological foundations of any scientific discipline are shaped by the goals towards which that discipline is aiming. While it is almost universally accepted that the goals of explanation and prediction of natural and non-human phenomena have been met with great success since the scientific revolution, it is almost just as universally accepted that the social sciences have not even come close to achieving these goals. This raises the question addressed in this paper, namely, what is economics, and social science (...)
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  12. On Fundamental Responsibility.Anna Sara Malmgren - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):198-213.
    Some psychological states—paradigmatically, beliefs and intentions—are rationally evaluable: they can be rational or irrational, justified or unjustified. Other states—e.g. sensations and gastrointestinal states—aren’t: they’re a-rational. On a familiar but hard-to-make-precise line of thought, at least part of what explains this difference is that we’re somehow responsible for (having/being in) states of the former sort, in a way we’re not for the others. But this responsibility can’t be modeled on the responsibility we have for our (free, intentional) actions. So how should (...)
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  13. Action.Fred I. Dretske & Malcolm Knox - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):251.
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  14. 5. The New Problem of the Imputability of Actions.Robert Greenberg - 2016 - In The Bounds of Freedom: Kant’s Causal Theory of Action. De Gruyter. pp. 61-80.
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  15. 5. Rational Agency.Paul Fairfield - 2000 - In Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 184-209.
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  16. Catholic Action and Unemployables.L. O'Hea - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):606-609.
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  17. The Apostolate of the Laity Through Catholic Action.Victor White - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):575-582.
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  18. The Action Ofeucomis Undulata, Ait.J. W. C. Gunn - 1922 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 10 (1):1-4.
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  19. The Action Ofurginea Burkei.J. W. C. Gunn - 1921 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 9 (2):197-204.
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  20. Some Proposals for Action.Luther H. Evans - 1962 - Isis 53 (1):101-105.
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  21. Sincere-Strategy Preference-Based Approval Voting Fully Resists Constructive Control and Broadly Resists Destructive Control.Gábor Erdélyi, Markus Nowak & Jörg Rothe - 2009 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 55 (4):425-443.
    We study sincere-strategy preference-based approval voting, a system proposed by Brams and Sanver [1] and here adjusted so as to coerce admissibility of the votes, with respect to procedural control. In such control scenarios, an external agent seeks to change the outcome of an election via actions such as adding/deleting/partitioning either candidates or voters. SP-AV combines the voters' preference rankings with their approvals of candidates, where in elections with at least two candidates the voters' approval strategies are adjusted – if (...)
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  22. L'action. Tome II. L'action Humain Et les Conditions de Son Aboutissement. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (8):222-222.
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  23. 3. Thought and Action.Stuart Hampshire - 2014 - In Bernard Williams (ed.), Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. Princeton University Press. pp. 8-17.
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  24. Human Thought and Action.Forrest E. Baird - 1992 - Upa.
    A book of readings in Western intellectual history focusing on the role of reason in human action. Contents:^ Plato: Myth of the Cave; Plato: ^IThe Four Virtues; Aristotle: Knowledge of Causes; Aristotle: The Types of Governments; Epicurus: Epicureanism; Epictetus: Stoicism; St. Augustine: The Platonist; St. Augustine: The Nature of Sources of Evil; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Four Laws; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Nature of the Soul; Pico: The Oration on the Dignity of Man; John Calvin: Reason, Sin and Illumination; St. (...)
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  25. A New American Agency. Russell - 1958 - Hibbert Journal 57:1.
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  26. LAWRENCE, R. "Motive and Intention". [REVIEW]O. Hanfling - 1975 - Mind 84:142.
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  27. The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya.V. Mangalvedkar - 1919 - Indian Literature Publishers.
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  28. Speech and Action in Heraclitus. On the Theoretical Foundations of Moral Action.Michel Fattal - 2013 - Archiwum Historii Filozofii I Myśli Społecznej 58.
    Doesn’t the originality of Heraclitus reside in elaborating, well before Socrates and Plato, a philosophical and theoretical reflection on the foundations of moral and political action? In what ways does Heraclitus envisage the relations between speech and action? The logos and epos of the philosopher, which are behind the doctrine of the harmony of opposites, don’t they offer a pathway, a stable criterion and norm for individual and collective action?Our contemporaries of the 21th century, conscious of the “crisis of values” (...)
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  29. Simulation Methods for an Abductive System in Science.T. R. Addis & D. C. Gooding - 2008 - Foundations of Science 13 (1):37-52.
    We argue that abduction does not work in isolation from other inference mechanisms and illustrate this through an inference scheme designed to evaluate multiple hypotheses. We use game theory to relate the abductive system to actions that produce new information. To enable evaluation of the implications of this approach we have implemented the procedures used to calculate the impact of new information in a computer model. Experiments with this model display a number of features of collective belief-revision leading to consensus-formation, (...)
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  30. Order, Action, Victimage.”.Kenneth Burke - 1968 - In Paul Grimley Kuntz (ed.), The Concept of Order. Seattle, Published for Grinnell College by the University of Washington Press. pp. 167--90.
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  31. WhatValues Underlie Our Actions?Graeme MacQueen - 2008 - In Neil Arya & Joanna Santa Barbara (eds.), Peace Through Health: How Health Professionals Can Work for a Less Violent World. Kumarian Press. pp. 1075.
  32. Action, See Interpreting Human Action Age Trends, 64 Harm Versus Intention, 65 Altruism. 430-434 Rescuers, 440-442.Sociomoral Competence Scales & Piaget Egocentrism - 1991 - In William M. Kurtines & Jacob L. Gewirtz (eds.), Handbook of Moral Behavior and Development. L. Erlbaum. pp. 459.
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  33. The Case for “Effector”: Case Roles, Agents, and Agency Revisited.Robert D. Van Valin & David Wilkins - 1996 - In Masayoshi Shibatani & Sandra Thompson (eds.), Grammatical Constructions. Clarendon Press.
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  34. 8 The Sources of Behavior: Toward a Naturalistic, Control Account of Agency.Bernhard Schlink - 2007 - In Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid & G. Lynn Stephens (eds.), Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press. pp. 123.
  35. 8 The Sources of Behavior: Toward a Naturalistic, Control Account of Agency.Mariam Thalos - 2007 - In Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid & G. Lynn Stephens (eds.), Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press. pp. 123--67.
  36. Control of Action and Interaction: Perceiving and Producing Effects in Action and Interaction with Objects1.Liselotte van Leeuwen, Franz Kaufrnann & Daniel Walther - 2000 - In Walter J. Perrig & Alexander Grob (eds.), Control of Human Behavior, Mental Processes, and Consciousness: Essays in Honor of the 60th Birthday of August Flammer. Erlbaum.
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  37. 1 Action by Cases.Krister Segerberg - 1995 - In G. Crocco, Luis Fariñas del Cerro & Andreas Herzig (eds.), Conditionals: From Philosophy to Computer Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 5--241.
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  38. How Not to Naturalize the Theory of Action.Peter Slezak - 1989 - In Computers, Brains and Minds. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 137--166.
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  39. The Mind's Construction: The Ontology of Mind and Mental Action.Matthew Soteriou - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Matthew Soteriou provides an original philosophical account of sensory and cognitive aspects of consciousness. He explores distinctions of temporal character in our mental lives--especially in relation to the exercise of agency--and illuminates the more general issue of the place and role of mental action in the metaphysics of mind.
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  40. The Social Dimension of Action Theory.Raimo Tuomela - 1991 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 3:145-158.
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  41. A Defense of Physicalism.Steven John Jensen - 1997 - The Thomist 61 (3):377-404.
  42. Les Apories de L'Action. Essai d'Une Épistémologie de l'Action Morale Et Politique, A. Kremer-Marietti.Benoît R. Timmermans - 1997 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 57:453.
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  43. A Call to Action.Gary Sprandel - 1982 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 12 (2):12-13.
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  44. Metaphysics of the Difference Between the Theoretical and the Practical: Towards the Responsibility for Our Own Action.V. Suvak - 2003 - Filozofia 58 (3):199-208.
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  45. Action.Richard Taylor & Malcolm Knox - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):305.
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  46. The Voluntary Action of the Earthly Christ and the Necessity of the Beatific Vision.Thomas Joseph White - 2005 - The Thomist 69 (4):497-534.
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  47. Svět a věda u Ludwiga von Misese. Esej o misesovské metafyzice.Petr Specian - 2012 - Filozofia 67 (4):335-346.
    The paper deals with von Mises’ metaphysics and argues that his methodological dualism concerns only his epistemology. The framework of Mises´s ontology is materialistic monism. Although Mises strongly criticizes materialism, his critique does not concern metaphysical ontological materialism as long as it does not try to eliminate the specific method of the social sciences. In this sense Mises’ metaphysics is fully naturalistic – it does not include any “spiritual” agents and postulates a world consisting exclusively of elementary physical particles. The (...)
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  48. Interpassive Agency: Engaging Actor-Network-Theory's View on the Agency of Objects.Gijs van Oenen - 2011 - Theory and Event 14 (2).
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  49. Action.Elizabeth Telfer - 1969 - Philosophical Books 10 (3):13-15.
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  50. Action.G. N. A. Vesey - 1969 - Philosophical Books 10 (3):1-2.
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