Some time ago, the philosopher Luciano Floridi suggested that Western philosophy, and the mainstream contemporary approach to it traditionally called ‘analytic philosophy’, is in dire need of a reboot. The concern was that the discipline might be in a period of decadence. Analytic philosophy would be benefited by greater internationalization, wider and more transparent decision-making, and the reduction (as much as possible) of conflicts of interest as well as of its current habit of hiring and providing publication opportunities on the (...) basis of contacts, networking, and academic pedigree. If we are right, then we need a reconditioning of the institutional framework of analytic philosophy that adjusts it to the current global and interconnected world. (shrink)
This paper examines the relation between the various forces which underlie human action and verbal reports about our reasons for acting as we did. I maintain that much of the psychological literature on confabulations rests on a dangerous conflation of the reasons for which people act with a variety of distinct motivational factors. In particular, I argue that subjects frequently give correct answers to questions about the considerations they acted upon while remaining largely unaware of why they take themselves to (...) have such reasons to act. Pari passu, experimental psychologists are wrong to maintain that they have shown our everyday reason talk to be systematically confused. This is significant because our everyday reason-ascriptions affect characterizations of action that are morally and legally relevant. I conclude, more positively, that far from rendering empirical research on confabulations invalid, my account helps to reveal its true insights into human nature. (shrink)
Moral particularism is often conceived as the view that there are no moral principles. However, its most fêted accounts focus almost exclusively on rules regarding actions and their features. Such action-centred particularism is, I argue, compatible with generalism at the level of character traits. The resulting view is a form of particularist virtue ethics. This endorses directives of the form ‘Be X’ but rejects any implication that the relevant X-ness must therefore always count in favour of an action.
Are the reasons for which we act the causes of our actions? In the nine essays collected here (including a major historical overview by the editors), experts in the field re-evaluate the history and current state of the reasons/causes debate.
Hinge Epistemology is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting areas of epistemology and Wittgenstein studies. In connecting these two fields it brings a revived energy to both, opening them up to fresh developments. The essays in this volume extend the subject in terms of both depth and breadth. They present new voices and challenges within hinge epistemology. They explore new applications and directions of hinge epistemology, particularly as it relates to the philosophy of mind, society, ethics, and the history (...) of ideas. (shrink)
The aim of this book is to provide an in-depth account of Hegel’s writings on human action as they relate to contemporary concerns in the hope that it will encourage fruitful dialogue between Hegel scholars and those working in the philosophy of action. During the past two decades, preliminary steps towards such a dialogue were taken, but many paths remain uncharted. The book thus serves as both a summative document of past interaction and a promissory note of things to come. (...) We begin this introduction with some general words regarding the philosophy of action before singling out reasons for exploring Hegel’s thought in relation to it. We next present a brief overview of studies conducted to this day, followed by a thematic appraisal of the contributions appearing in this volume. (shrink)
The Things We Do and Why We Do Them argues against the common assumption that there is a kind of thing called "action" which all reason-giving explanation of action are geared towards. Sandis explains why all theories concerned with the form which any such explanation must take fail from the outset, and shows how various debates on the nature of so-called motivating reasons only arise because the participants all share a number of mistaken views which follow from the basic assumption (...) under attack. In so doing, he urges philosophers and psychologists alike to stop asking whether the explanation of action is causal, and to focus instead on its multifarious objects. This book will appeal to anyone interested in motivational psychology, the reasons for which we act, and the philosophy of explanation in general. (shrink)
Philosophy has a language problem. A recent study by Schwitzgebel, Huang, Higgins and Gonzalez-Cabrera (2018) found that, in a sample of papers published in elite journals, 97% of citations were to work originally written in English. 73% of this same sample didn’t cite any paper that had been originally written in a language other than English. Finally, a staggering 96% of elite journal editorial boards are primarily affiliated with an Anglophone university. This is consistent with earlier data suggesting that journal (...) submissions from countries that are outside the Anglophone world and Europe have disturbingly low chances of being accepted. The route forward is not entirely clear. What is clear, however, is that this structural disadvantage deserves closer philosophical and empirical attention. We owe this to current and future members of our philosophical community who speak English non-natively. We also need this if we want to make sure philosophy is enriched by a diverse group of thinkers who have a grasp of different languages, and of the cultures strongly associated with them. (shrink)
A Companion to the Philosophy of Action offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action. The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action (the central issues and processes relating to human actions). Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts. Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, and rational agency in evolutionary perspective. Individual chapters also cover prominent (...) historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur. Can be approached as a complete narrative, but also serves as a work of reference. Offers rich insights into an area of philosophical thought that has attracted thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks. (shrink)
_The Philosophy of Action: An Anthology_ is an authoritative collection of key work by top scholars, arranged thematically and accompanied by expert introductions written by the editors. This unique collection brings together a selection of the most influential essays from the 1960s to the present day. An invaluable collection that brings together a selection of the most important classic and contemporary articles in philosophy of action, from the 1960’s to the present day No other broad-ranging and detailed coverage of this (...) kind currently exists in the field Each themed section opens with a synoptic introduction and includes a comprehensive further reading list to guide students Includes sections on action and agency, willing and trying, intention and intentional action, acting for a reason, the explanation of action, and free agency and responsibility Written and organised in a style that allows it to be used as a primary teaching resource in its own right. (shrink)
This essay is motivated by the thought that the things we do are to be distinguished from our acts of doing them. I defend a particular way of drawing this distinction before proceeding to demonstrate its relevance for normative ethics. Central to my argument is the conviction that certain ongoing debates in ethical theory begin to dissolve once we disambiguate the two concepts of action in question. If this is right, then the study of action should be accorded a far (...) more prominent place within moral philosophy than previously supposed. I end by considering an extension of the above to aesthetic evaluation and,mutatis mutandis, that of our lives in general. (shrink)
The anthology contains twenty-two essays and is divided into two parts. The essays are, in the main, critical responses to aspects of what has come to be known in action theory as the ‘Standard View’ – the view that traces back to Donald Davidson's contribution to twentieth-century philosophy of action. The view under criticism treats actions as bodily movements caused in a non-deviant way by belief–desire pairs, construes these belief–desire pairs as the primary reasons for the actions that they cause, (...) and embraces event-causality.The issue of how we should conceive of action is taken up in several essays. For example: in Essay 1, Fred Dretske challenges the view that actions are external events that are the effect of the reasons for which the action is done. In Essay 16, Helen Steward, proposes that, instead of treating the availability of a reason-giving explanation as essential to action, we should construe action as ‘an exercise of the power of bodily control by an animal’. In Essay 21, Jonathan Dancy argues for a deflationary approach to actions, which forgoes treating actions ‘as individuals, with identity conditions’.Other authors – for example, Stephen Everson, Rowland Stout and Maria Alvarez – focus on the issue of what reasons for action are. Are they psychological states, or propositions, or states of affairs? Also under review is how to distinguish different kinds of reason: normative and explanatory reasons, and even explanatory and motivating reasons. (shrink)
Wittgenstein teaches us that, contrary to current philosophical and scientific trends, the understanding of others is not to be achieved through some kind of emotional tool providing an access-pass to otherwise hidden ‘mental contents’. This insight goes against the popular grain of empathy as a form of informational ‘mindreading’, founded upon John Locke’s assumption that understanding another is a matter of obtaining and decoding the stored in their mind. We would do best to replace this radically distorted account of what (...) it takes to understand others with a stance that places priority on shared aspects of our lives. Only then can we even begin to try and tackle our moral, cultural, religious, and socio-political differences. (shrink)
In his first paper, ‘Must We Mean What We Say?’, Stanley Cavell defended the methods of ordinary language philosophy against various charges made by his senior colleague, Benson Mates, under the influence of the empirical semantics of Arne Naess.1 Cavell’s argument hinges on the claim that native speakers are a source of evidence for 'what is said' in language and, accordingly, need not base their claims about ordinary language upon evidence. In what follows, I maintain that this defence against empirical (...) semantics applies equally well to experimental philosophy's attack on doing philosophy from the armchair. In so doing, I attempt to clarify – and adjust – Cavell's claim that statements about ordinary language are rule-descriptions that are neither analytic nor synthetic. (shrink)
Throughout his work Hegel distinguishes between the notion of an act from the standpoint of the agent and that of all other standpoints. He terms the formerHandlung and the latterTat. This distinction should not be confused with the contemporary one between action andmerebodily movement. For one, bothHandlungandTatare aspects of conduct that results from the will,viz. Tun. Moreover, Hegel's taxonomy is motivated purely by concerns relating to modes of perception. So whereas theorists such as Donald Davidson assert thatallactions are events that (...) are intentional under some description, Hegel reserves the term ‘action’ for those aspects of behaviour that are highlighted by a specific set of agent-related descriptions. This is not an ontological category, since there are no such objects as actions-under-specific-descriptions.Sophocles'sTheban Trilogyreveals the central role that these notions must play in any Hegelian understanding of tragic drama. Indeed the contrasts that matter most to Hegel's general take on both epic and tragic poetry are more closely related to the study of action than the standard theory attributed to Hegel would seem to allow. It is more fruitful, then, to incorporate Hegel's insights into such tragedies to the model of action employed by him than it is to try to make them fit whatever ‘theory’ of tragedy might appear to be hinted at in hisAesthetics. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 372 - 392 In this essay I revisit some anti-causalist arguments relating to reason-giving explanations of action put forth by numerous philosophers writing in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s in what Donald Davidson dismissively described as a ‘neo-Wittgensteinian current of small red books’. While chiefly remembered for subscribing to what has come to be called the ‘logical connection’ argument, the positions defended across these volumes are in fact as diverse as they are (...) subtle, united largely by a an anti-scientistic spirit which may reasonably be described as historicist. I argue that while Davidson’s causalist attack was motivated by an important explanatory insight borrowed from Hempel, it caused serious damage to the philosophy of action by effectively brushing over a number of vital distinctions made in the aforementioned works. In seeking to revive these I propose an approach to the theory of action explanation that rescues the anti-causalist baby from the historicist bathwater. (shrink)
This paper explores the role of empathy and detachment in historical explanation by comparing Collingwood and Hume's philosophies of history to Brecht and Stanislavki's theories of theatre. I argue that Collingwood's notion of re-enactment shares much more with Hume and Brecht than it does with Stanislavski. This enables a just medium between rationalistic and empathetic accounts of historical understanding, as recently put forth by Mark Bevir and Karsten Stueber respectively.
This paper distinguishes between various different conceptions of behaviour and action before exploring an accompanying variety of distinct things that ‘action explanation’ may plausibly amount to viz. different objectives of action explanation. I argue that a large majority of philosophers are guilty of conflating many of these, consequently offering inadequate accounts of the relation between actions and our reasons for performing them. The paper ends with the suggestion that we would do well to opt for a pluralistic understanding of action (...) and its explanations. (shrink)
In this paper we propose a new interpretation of Hegel's views on action and responsibility, defending it against its most plausible exegetical competitors.1Any exposition of Hegel will face both terminological and substantive challenges, and so we place, from the outset, some interpretative constraints. The paper divides into two parts. In part one, we point out that Hegel makes a number of distinctions which any sensible account of responsibility should indeed make. Our aim here is to show that Hegel at least (...) has the materials for a sensible and nuanced account, whatever the precise details of how they hang together. Part two then turns to a hard question concerning the relation of two different aspects of our deeds to responsibility. We consider five alternate ways of relieving the tension in Hegel's text, before putting forth our own preferred solution. (shrink)
This essay discusses Kant and Hegel’s philosophies of action and the place of action within the general structure of their practical philosophy. We begin by briefly noting a few things that both unite and distinguish the two philosophers. In the sections that follow, we consider these and their corollaries in more detail. In so doing, we map their differences against those suggested by more standard readings that treat their accounts of action as less central to their practical philosophy. Section 2 (...) discusses some central Kantian concepts. In Section 3, we take a closer look at the distinction between internal and external action, as found in Kant’s philosophy of morality and legality. In Section 4, we turn to Hegel and his distinctions between abstract right, morality, and ethical life, as well as the location of his account of action within his overall theory of morality. We discuss the distinction between Handlung and Tat, and non-imputable consequences. The overall aims of our essay are to shed light on some puzzles in Kant and Hegel’s conceptions and to examine where their exact disputes lie without taking a stand on which philosophy is ultimately the most satisfactory. (shrink)
This volume focuses on Hegel's philosophy of action in connection to current concerns. Including key papers by Charles Taylor, Alasdair MacIntyre, and John McDowell, as well as eleven especially commissioned contributions by leading scholars in the field, it aims to readdress the dialogue between Hegel and contemporary philosophy of action. Topics include: the nature of action, reasons and causes; explanation and justification of action; social and narrative aspects of agency; the inner and the outer; the relation between intention, planning, and (...) purposeful behaviour; freedom and responsibility; and self-actualisation. This book will appeal alike to Hegel scholars and philosophers of action. -/- List of Contributors: Katerina Deligiorgi, Stephen Houlgate, Dudley Knowles, Arto Laitinen, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Mcdowell, Francesca Menegoni, Dean Moyar, Terry Pinkard, Robert B. Pippin, Michael Quante, Constantine Sandis, Hans-Christoph Schmidt Am Busch, Allen Speight, Charles Taylor, Allen W. Wood. (shrink)
Psychological eudaimonism is the view that we are constituted by a desire to avoid the harmful. This entails that coming to see a prospective or actual object of pursuit as harmful to us will unseat our positive evaluative belief about that object. There is more than one way that such an 'unseating' of desire may be caused on an intellectualist picture. This paper arbitrates between two readings of Socrates' 'attack on laziness' in the Meno, with the aim of constructing a (...) model of moral education based on PE's implied moral psychology. In particular, we argue against the view that when we come to see - through prudential reasoning - that our blatant evaluative beliefs and desires disserve eudaimonism, we will no longer perceive their intentional objects as choice-worthy. We suggest, instead, that it is by experiencing shame that we cease to see the intentional objects of our evaluative beliefs and desires as worthy of pursuit. This form of 'hydraulic education' bypasses reason-responsiveness altogether. As such, it only allows for practical norms to be derived from the nature of agency indirectly, namely by enabling the use of discursive practical reasoning. (shrink)
This paper argues for a novel interpretation of Hume's account of motivation, according to which beliefs can (alone) motivate action though not by standing as reasons which normatively favour it. It si then suggested that a number of contemporary debates about concerning the nature of reasons for action could benefit from such an approach.
Recent years have seen a high increase in the teaching of Philosophy in schools. Programs such as Pathways Schools in Australia International Society for Philosophers, since 2003), 'Philosophy in Schools' in the UK (Royal Institute of Philosophy, since 1999), and 'Philosophy for Children' in the USA, Australia, and the UK (International Council for Philosophical Inquiry since 1985 & Society for Advancing Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education since 1993) are spreading around the world. Within a decade of its introduction Philosophy (...) (AS/A2) has become one of the most popular standard subjects taught across UK secondary.. (shrink)
I here respond to James Warren and John Shand's replies to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach.
This essay introduces a tension between the public Wittgenstein’s optimism about knowledge of other minds and the private Wittgenstein’s pessimism about understanding others. There are three related reasons which render the tension unproblematic. First, the barriers he sought to destroy were metaphysical ones, whereas those he struggled to overcome were psychological. Second, Wittgenstein’s official view is chiefly about knowledge while the unofficial one is about understanding. Last, Wittgenstein’s official remarks on understanding themselves fall into two distinct categories that don’t match (...) the focus of his unofficial ones. One is comprised of those remarks in the Investigations that challenge the thought that understanding is an inner mental process. The other consists primarily of those passages in PPF and On Certainty concerned with the difficulty of understanding others without immersing oneself into their form of life. In its unofficial counterpart, Wittgenstein focuses on individuals, rather than collectives. The official and the unofficial sets of remarks are united in assuming a distinction between understanding a person and understanding the meaning of their words. If to understand a language is to understand a form of life, then to understand a person is to understand a whole life. (shrink)