Can a single action have many different descriptions?

Inquiry 10 (1-4):164 – 180 (1967)
To say that a single human action can be given different descriptions is to imply that the contrast between action and description is intelligible. There are several ways in which such a contrast is easily understood, but those ways do not meet philosophers? needs. They have said that the descriptions are all true, thereby excluding that interpretation in which no more than one description could be true. They have emphasized the word ?different?, therefore that interpretation in which the descriptions are partial and consequently combinable into one larger description is excluded. The descriptions must be different and true while remaining descriptions of the same single action. How can we conceive of this sort of contrast between description and action? It is not a familiar one. Several attempts are made in this paper to provide a way of conceiving of the contrast. All fail. The conclusion is hesitantly drawn that we have no other way to conceive of different human actions than by descriptions which are different from one another and true
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DOI 10.1080/00201746708601487
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Keith S. Donnellan (1963). Knowing What I Am Doing. Journal of Philosophy 60 (14):401-409.

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