Erkenntnis 48 (2-3):395-413 (1998)

Ralf Stoecker
Bielefeld University
The widely agreed view that actions are events faces the problem of how to describe the “branches” in so-called action trees, i.e. actions which are done by doing other actions. Moreover, the view is also inconsistent with the existence of two familiar species of agency: omitting something and letting things happen. In this article, an alternative conception of action is proposed which takes letting happen as the paradigm of agency. Agency should be construed as an explanatory relation between agents and things happening in the world. This relational view of agency can accommodate for all kinds of agency: doing, letting happen, omitting, prohibiting. And it also provides a satisfactory account of the ontological basis of action trees. We should at first say that to do something is to originate or to bring into existence, i.e., really, to cause, some not yet existing state either of ourselves or of someone else, or, again, of some body.
Keywords Philosophy   Epistemology   Ethics   Logic   Ontology
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1005396107548
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References found in this work BETA

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
A Theory of Human Action.Alvin I. Goldman - 1970 - Princeton University Press.
The Logical Form of Action Sentences.Donald Davidson - 1967 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), The Logic of Decision and Action. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 81--95.
Events and Their Names.Jonathan Bennett - 1988 - Oxford University Press UK.
Noncausal Connections.Jaegwon Kim - 1974 - Noûs 8 (1):41-52.

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