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
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  1. 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. (...)
  2. 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.
  3. Action.Fred I. Dretske & Malcolm Knox - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):251.
  4. 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 (...)
  5. Some Proposals for Action.Luther H. Evans - 1962 - Isis 53 (1):101-105.
  6. 5. Rational Agency.Paul Fairfield - 2000 - In Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 184-209.
  7. 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” (...)
  8. L'action. Tome II. L'action Humain Et les Conditions de Son Aboutissement. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (8):222-222.
  9. L'Action. Vol. I. Le Problème des Causes Secondes Et le Pur Agir. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1937 - Journal of Philosophy 34 (19):527-527.
  10. Editorial 1 Knowing One's Own Actions George Wilson/Proximal Practical Foresight 3–19 Kevin Falvey/Knowledge in Intention 21–44 Nomy Arpaly/Hamlet and the Utilitarians 45–57. [REVIEW]George Graham, Terence Horgan, Mary Mary & Quite Contrary - 2000 - Philosophical Studies 99:373-374.
  11. 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.
  12. The Action Ofeucomis Undulata, Ait.J. W. C. Gunn - 1922 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 10 (1):1-4.
  13. The Action Ofurginea Burkei.J. W. C. Gunn - 1921 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 9 (2):197-204.
  14. 3. Thought and Action.Stuart Hampshire - 2016 - In Bernard Williams (ed.), Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. Princeton University Press. pp. 8-17.
  15. LAWRENCE, R. "Motive and Intention". [REVIEW]O. Hanfling - 1975 - Mind 84:142.
  16. Handlungen.David Hommen - 2017 - In Markus Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik. Stuttgart/Weimar: pp. 164–169.
  17. 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.
  18. The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya.V. Mangalvedkar - 1919 - Indian Literature Publishers.
  19. Almost Nothing Happening: An Essay on Action and Event.John Mullarkey - unknown
  20. Catholic Action and Unemployables.L. O'Hea - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):606-609.
  21. A New American Agency. Russell - 1958 - Hibbert Journal 57:1.
  22. 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.
  23. Arm and Hand Movement Control.Stefan Schaal - 2002 - In M. Arbib (ed.), The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks. MIT Press. pp. 2--110.
  24. Understanding Action.Frederic Schick - 1994 - Erkenntnis 41 (1):127-133.
  25. PRADINES, M. - Critique des Conditions de l'Action. [REVIEW]F. C. S. Schiller - 1911 - Mind 20:422.
  26. 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.
  27. Practical Knowledge.Michael Schmitz - 2013 - Was Sollen Wir Glauben? Was Dürfen Wir Tun?, Sektionsbeiträge der GAP. 8.
    The contribution deals with knowledge of what to do, and how, where, when and why to do it, as it is found in a multitude of plans, rules, procedures, maxims, and other instructions. It is argued that while this knowledge is conceptual and propositional, it is still irreducible to theoretical knowledge of what is the case and why it is the case. It is knowledge of goals, of ends and means, rather than of facts. It is knowledge-to that is irreducibly (...)
  28. Cephalic Organization: Animacy and Agency.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):61-77.
    Humans come prepared to recognize two fundamental features of our surroundings: animate objects and agents. This recognition begins early in ontogeny and pervades our ecological and social space. This cognitive capacity reveals an important adaptation and sets the conditions for pervasive shared experiences. One feature of our species and our evolved cephalic substrates is that we are prepared to recognize self-propelled action in others. Our cultural evolution is knotted to an expanding sense of shared experiences.
  29. Being Human: The Problem of Agency.Don Seeman - 2003 - Common Knowledge 9 (1):167-168.
  30. 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.
  31. Towards an Exact Philosophy of Action.Krister Segerberg - 1984 - Topoi 3 (1):75-83.
  32. Understanding Action: Aristotelian Telos and Phantasia.Heda Segvic - 2002 - Logical Analysis and History of Philosophy 5.
    Aristotelian telos is the action's projected goal - what the agent aims at in action - and also, if the action is successful, its accomplished goal. Grasping the projected telos involves grasping how the circumstances of the action, and the telos itself, appear to the agent. Phantasia, appearance, thus captures the internal side of action. The object of aiming, and of desire, appears to the agent as something good, hence for Aristotle valuation is built into the very nature of action. (...)
  33. Causality in Action.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Analysis 73 (3):501-512.
  34. Commitment and Action.K. Shah - 1981 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 8 (2):177.
  35. Ii. Attitudes and Action.R. A. Sharpe - 1977 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 20 (1-4):131 – 145.
  36. A Study of the Complex and Disputed Philosophical Questions Surrounding Human Action.Daniel Shaw - 2000
  37. Ode to Sparklepony-Gamification in Action.Wendi Sierra & Kyle Stedman - forthcoming - Kairos.
  38. XI—Human Action and the Language of Volitions.John R. Silber - 1964 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 64 (1):199-220.
  39. Human Action and the Language of Volitions.John R. Silber - 1963 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 64:199 - 220.
  40. Understanding Human Action.Michael A. Simon - 1983 - Mind 92 (367):453-455.
  41. What to Do About Religion: A Plan of Action.Alistair Sinclair - 2009 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 17 (2):35-42.
  42. Disciplined Agency.Alan Singer - 2008 - Clr James Journal 14 (1):151-156.
  43. Mele's Effective Intentions: The Power of Conscious Will. [REVIEW]Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Adina Roskies - 2010 - Philosophical Books 51 (3):127-143.
  44. How Not to Naturalize the Theory of Action.Peter Slezak - 1989 - In Computers, Brains and Minds. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 137--166.
  45. Developing the Incentivized Action View of Institutional Reality.J. P. Smit, Filip Buekens & Stan du Plessis - 2014 - Synthese 191 (8).
    Contemporary discussion concerning institutions focus on, and mostly accept, the Searlean view that institutional objects, i.e. money, borders and the like, exist in virtue of the fact that we collectively represent them as existing. A dissenting note has been sounded by Smit et al. (Econ Philos 27:1–22, 2011), who proposed the incentivized action view of institutional objects. On the incentivized action view, understanding a specific institution is a matter of understanding the specific actions that are associated with the institution and (...)
  46. Agency and the Essence of Actions.A. D. Smith - 1988 - Philosophical Quarterly 38 (153):401-421.
  47. Purpose in Action.Jay Alan Smith & Ont Toronto - 1977 - [S.N.].
  48. Ifs and Cans.P. H. Nowell Smith - 1960 - Theoria 26 (2):85-101.
  49. Action Philosophers.John Snider - 2006 - Philosophy Now 57:44-45.
  50. Subjective Accounts of Reasons for Action.David Sobel - 2001 - Ethics 111 (3):461-492.
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