Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 6 (3):137-146 (2017)

Olle Blomberg
University of Gothenburg
According to the standard story given by reductive versions of the Causal Theory of Action, an action is an intrinsically mindless bodily movement that is appropriately caused by an intention. Those who embrace this story typically take this intention to have a coarse-grained content, specifying the action only down to the level of the agent's habits and skills. Markos Valaris argues that, because of this, the standard story cannot make sense of the deep reach of our non-observational knowledge of action. He concludes that we therefore have to jettison its conception of actions as mindless bodily movements animated from the outside by intentions. Here we defend the standard story. We can make sense of the reach of non-observational knowledge of action once we reject the following two assumptions: (i) that an intended habitual or skilled action is a so-called basic action—that is, an action that doesn't involve any finer-grained intentions—and (ii) that an agent, in acting, is merely executing one intention rather than a whole hierarchy of more or less fine-grained intentions. We argue that (i) and (ii) are false.
Keywords Causal Theory of Action  Markos Valaris  basic actions  habit  intentions  motor representations  non‐observational knowledge of action  reductionism  skill
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DOI 10.1002/tht3.249
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References found in this work BETA

Intention.P. L. Heath - 1960 - Philosophical Quarterly 10 (40):281.
Intention and Motor Representation in Purposive Action.Stephen Andrew Butterfill & Corrado Sinigaglia - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):119-145.
Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason.J. David Velleman - 1991 - Philosophical Review 100 (2):277-284.

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