Review of Metaphysics 23 (1):143-144 (1969)

The body of this book contains four original papers, comments, and author's replies, from a conference on the Logic of Decision and Action held at the University of Pittsburgh in March 1966. The principal authors are Herbert Simon, N. Rescher, Donald Davidson, and G. H. von Wright. Commentators are R. Ackermann, A. R. Anderson, N. D. Belnap, R. Binkley, H. N. Castañeda, R. Chisholm, J. Robison, and the late E. J. Lemmon. As appendices, there are articles by A. R. Anderson "The Formal Analysis of Normative Systems," and Rescher's very brief scheme for the classifications of "actions" according to five key generic elements. Problems of decision and action are important for all philosophical critique of norms; in ethics, philosophy of science, of the social sciences, and so forth. The task of a comprehensive logic of action is to describe or prescribe the rules that govern reasoning about the occasions for action, the discovery of action alternatives, and the choice of action. In "The Logic of Heuristic Decision Making," Herbert Simon continues to support the view presented in his earlier work, that "ordinary mathematical reasoning, hence the ordinary logic of declarative statements, is all that is required," as relevant imperatives can be brought into normative systems via correspondence rules for conversion of existential statements. In "Semantic Foundations for the Logic of Preference," Rescher starts from the familiar semantical notion of a "possible world," offering the valuation-measure for such worlds as a determinant of preferabilities, and hoping to show that divergent approaches to problems of preference may be reconciled in this way. Davidson's article, "The Logical Form of Action Sentences" analyzes concepts of agency and intentionality. G. H. von Wright sees a logic of change to be necessary in order to formulate a logic of action. His essay elaborates some of the ideas in his book Norms and Action, but also gives essential modifications of his earlier views.--M. B. M.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1969231196
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