The Possibility of Philosophy of Action

In Jan Bransen & Stefaan Cuypers (eds.), Human Action, Deliberation and Causation. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 17--41 (1998)

Michael Smith
Princeton University
This article was conceived as a sequel to “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” The paper addresses various challenges to the standard account of the explanation of intentional action in terms of desire and means-end belief, challenges that didn’t occur to me when I wrote “The Humean Theory of Motivation.” I begin by suggesting that the attraction of the standard account lies in the way in which it allows us to unify a vast array of otherwise diverse types of action explanation. I go on to consider a range of other challenges to the standard account of the explanation of action: Rosalind Hursthouse’s challenge based on the possibility of what she calls “arational” actions (Hursthouse 1991); Michael Stocker’s challenge based on the idea that some explanations of action are nonteleological (Stocker 1981); Mark Platts’s challenge based on the idea that our evaluative beliefs can sometimes explain our actions all by themselves (Platts 1981); a voluntarist challenge based on the possibility of explaining actions by the exercise of self-control; and a challenge from Jonathan Dancy based on the idea that reasons can themselves sometimes explain actions all by themselves (Dancy 1994).
Keywords Humean Theory of Motivation
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Explaining Action by Emotion.Sabine A. Döring - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (211):214-230.
Slips.Santiago Amaya - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):559-576.
Which Emotional Behaviors Are Actions?Jean Moritz Müller & Hong Yu Wong - forthcoming - In Andrea Scarantino (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory. New York City, New York, USA:

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