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. Action.Fred I. Dretske & Malcolm Knox - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):251.
  2. 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.
  3. 5. Rational Agency.Paul Fairfield - 2000 - In Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 184-209.
  4. Catholic Action and Unemployables.L. O'Hea - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):606-609.
  5. The Apostolate of the Laity Through Catholic Action.Victor White - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):575-582.
  6. The Action Ofeucomis Undulata, Ait.J. W. C. Gunn - 1922 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 10 (1):1-4.
  7. The Action Ofurginea Burkei.J. W. C. Gunn - 1921 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 9 (2):197-204.
  8. Some Proposals for Action.Luther H. Evans - 1962 - Isis 53 (1):101-105.
  9. 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 (...)
  10. L'Action. Vol. I. Le Problème des Causes Secondes Et le Pur Agir. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1937 - Journal of Philosophy 34 (19):527-527.
  11. L'action. Tome II. L'action Humain Et les Conditions de Son Aboutissement. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (8):222-222.
  12. 3. Thought and Action.Stuart Hampshire - 2016 - In Bernard Williams (ed.), Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. Princeton University Press. pp. 8-17.
  13. 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. (...)
  14. A Cselekv'es L'Elektana.Hildebrand Dezsîo Vâarkonyi - 1993
  15. Problem: Psychology and Order in Action.F. J. van der Veldt - 1941 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 17:91.
  16. John R. Searle, Rationality in Action. [REVIEW]Erich von Dietze - 2002 - Philosophy in Review 22:365-367.
  17. A New American Agency. Russell - 1958 - Hibbert Journal 57:1.
  18. 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. (...)
  19. Aristotle's Theory of Action.George Philip Webb - 1969 - Dissertation, University of Washington
  20. The Explanation of Human Action: An Essay Towards a Theory.Clifford Terry Warner - 1967 - Dissertation, Yale University
  21. Understanding Human Action.Michael A. Simon - 1983 - Mind 92 (367):453-455.
  22. LAWRENCE, R. "Motive and Intention". [REVIEW]O. Hanfling - 1975 - Mind 84:142.
  23. PRADINES, M. - Critique des Conditions de l'Action. [REVIEW]F. C. S. Schiller - 1911 - Mind 20:422.
  24. Charles, D., "Aristotle s Philosophy of Action". [REVIEW]M. Woods - 1986 - Mind 95:140.
  25. Commitment and Action.K. Shah - 1981 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 8 (2):177.
  26. Self-Knowledge and Human Action.Rakesh Varma - 1979 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 6 (3):570.
  27. God, Action, and Relation: A Constructive Proposal.Susan Lynnette Storey - 1991 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    This dissertation explores two issues of perennial concern in philosophical theology, God's action with respect to the world and God's relation to the world. For the most part, these two issues have been pursued separately. The central conviction underlying this study is that the two discussions would both be well served by being brought together under a unifying concept and a single paradigm. The concept suggested, and then further specified, is the concept of intention; the proposed paradigm is pro alia (...)
  28. Intention, Motive, and Valuation.Carol Louise High Waldman - 1972 - Dissertation, Bryn Mawr College
  29. The Theory of Action.Kenneth D. Stephens - 1971 - Dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University
  30. The Degrees of Being From the Point of View of the Phenomenology of Action.Cardinal Karol Wojtyla - 1981 - Analecta Husserliana 11:125.
  31. MILLIGAN, DAVID Reasoning and the Explanation of Action. [REVIEW]J. E. Tiles - 1982 - Philosophy 57:142.
  32. Purpose in Action.Jay Alan Smith & Ont Toronto - 1977 - [S.N.].
  33. Veer Savarkar Thought and Action of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.Jyoti Trehan - 1991
  34. A Study of the Complex and Disputed Philosophical Questions Surrounding Human Action.Daniel Shaw - 2000
  35. The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya.V. Mangalvedkar - 1919 - Indian Literature Publishers.
  36. Agency and Integrality.Michael J. White - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (4):599-601.
  37. 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” (...)
  38. Actions by Jennifer Hornsby. [REVIEW]Gary Watson - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (8):464-469.
  39. Bound to Act: Models of Action, Dramas of Inaction.Valeria Wagner - 1999 - Stanford University Press.
    The author deals with both philosophical and dramatic texts in addressing this question. These texts formulate the impossibility of acting in terms of the difficulty of the passage à l'acte, which each inflects differently.
  40. Why “Why?”? Action, Reasons and Language.Roger Teichmann - 2015 - Philosophical Investigations 38 (1-2):115-132.
    In Intention, Anscombe characterises intentional actions as “the actions to which a certain sense of the question ‘Why?’ is given application”. Some philosophers have seen Anscombe's reference to “Why?”, and to other workings of language, as heuristic devices only. I argue that, on the contrary, we should see the enquiry-and-response dialogue, and related dialogues, as essential foci of the sort of investigation Anscombe is undertaking, one which looks to a certain kind of language-game and the human purpose or purposes which (...)
  41. Agency Is Messy: Get Used to It.Peter A. Ubel - 2014 - American Journal of Bioethics 14 (9):37-38.
  42. Hunting for Happiness: Aristotle and the Good of Action.Don Tontiplaphol - unknown
    The starting point of the dissertation is a special kind of intentional action -- Aristotelian praxis, or, in a more metaphysical register, energeia -- a kind whose agent's intention in acting must be expressible as the deliverance of one's prohairesis , action that is the embodiment of one's conception of eupraxia , and, equivalently, of eudaimonia . It is special, since not all that we intentionally do can be intelligibly expressed as the deliverance of our conceptions of acting well. Recognition (...)
  43. Human Language and Agency.Charles Taylor - 1985 - Philosophical Papers 1.
  44. Ota Weinberger and the Theory of Action.La Torre - 1994 - Rechtstheorie. Beiheft 14:159-170.
  45. Eye Movement and Voluntary Control in Portrait Drawing.J. Tchalenko, L. Dempere-Marco, X. P. Hu & G. Z. Yang - 2003 - Mind 2 (3):4.
  46. Agents in Action.Ralf Stoecker - 2001 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 61 (1):21-42.
  47. Most Ways I Could Move: Comparing Subsets of the Behaviour Space in Bennett's Act/Omission Distinction.Fiona Woollard - 2011 - Mind 120 (477):155-182.
    The distinction between action and omission is of interest in both theoretical and practical philosophy. We use this distinction daily in our descriptions of behaviour and appeal to it in moral judgements. However, the very nature of the act/omission distinction is as yet unclear. Jonathan Bennett’s account of the distinction in terms of positive and negative facts is one of the most promising attempts to give an analysis of the ontological distinction between action and omission. According to Bennett’s account, an (...)
  48. John R. Searle, Rationality in Action Reviewed By.Rev Dr Erich von Dietze - 2002 - Philosophy in Review 22 (5):365-367.
  49. Development of Professional Knowledge in Action. Experiences From an Action Science Design Focusing on'Acknowledging Communication'in Mental Health.Solfrid Vatne - 2008 - Encyclopaideia 24:9-29.
  50. Actions and Their Results.Ernest Sosa - 1965 - Logique Et Analyse 8.
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