About this topic
Summary "Action Theory" as it is used here is the sub-area in the philosophy of action/agency that is concerned chiefly with the foundations of the broader sub-discipline. Central problems include the nature and scope of intentional action and agency, the explanation of action, and our knowledge of our actions. Most of the other problems that fall within the scope of this category at PhilPapers are closely related to such foundational questions.
Key works Perhaps the two most influential works that have shaped the current state of action theory are Anscombe 1957 and Davidson 1963. Davidson's essay is the locus classicus for the causal theory of action and for causalism about reason-explanations of actions. Anscombe's book has been influential among proponents of non-causal theories of action and reason-explanation. For a classic defense of the agent-causal perspective, see Chisholm 1966. And for a volitionist perspective, see McCann 1974. Some collections of essays that may help readers get a sense of the major debates in action theory today include Mele 1997, Aguilar & Buckareff 2010, Aguilar & Buckareff 2009, and D'Oro & Sandis 2013.
Introductions The following are good places to start to for those looking for guides to the current state of the art in action theory. Mele 2005 Mele 1992 Wilson 2008
Related categories
Subcategories:
Moral Responsibility* (2,971 | 588)
See also:History/traditions: Action Theory

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  1. P. Van Inwagen metafiziğinde bağdaşmazlık sorunu.Atilla Akalın - 2022 - Dissertation, Istanbul University
    Causal determinism is the view that all events in the universe are predetermined and that the laws of nature causally necessitate these events. In the debates on free will, there are two different positions called incompatibilism and compatibilism. Accordingly, compatibilist accounts claim that free will and causal determinism can be compatible and coexist. On the contrary, incompatibilist accounts defend that compatibilist accounts are problematic and claim that free will cannot exist in a universe where causal determinism holds. The main approach (...)
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  2. The Logic of Counteraction.Erkan Tin & Varol Akman - 1993 - Elektrik 1 (3):167-181.
    We extend causal theories and study actions in domains involving multiple agents. Causal theories, invented by Yoav Shoham, are based on a temporal nonmonotonic logic and have computationally tractable aspects. Since Shoham's formalism does not provide an adequate mechanism for representing simultaneous actions and specifying their consequences, we introduce the notion of counteractions while preserving the efficiency and model-theoretic properties of causal theories.
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  3. Shared and Institutional Agency: Toward a Planning Theory of Human Practical Organization.Michael Bratman - 2022 - New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press.
    "A fundamental feature of our individual, human agency is its organization over time. Think again about growing food in a garden, or taking a trip, or writing a book. A central idea is that our capacity for planning agency is at the heart of this cross-temporal organization of our individual, human agency. Appeal to this role of our capacity for planning agency both fits our commonsense self-understanding and, I conjecture, would be a part of an empirically informed psychological theory that (...)
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  4. Les nouveaux pouvoirs d'agir.Vanessa Wisnia-Weill - 2020 - Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
    Nos sociétés érigent en idéal la capacité d'agir, celle de l'individu libre et autonome. Pourtant, de tout le corps social montent des exaspérations, revendications ou souffrances de la part de vies empêchées, à mille lieues de cet idéal d'accomplissement. L'avenir de la social-démocratie passe par l'invention de nouveaux pouvoirs d'agir : travail, consommation, liens intimes, citoyenneté, connaissance. Il est crucial de garantir notre puissance d'agir dans toutes ces sphères, sauf à sombrer dans un sentiment d'impuissance face aux inégalités ou à (...)
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  5. Acts, Intentions, and Moral Evaluation: A Dialogue.Craig M. White - 2023 - New York, NY: Routledge.
    This book argues that the moral quality of an act comes from the agent's inner states. By arguing for the indispensable relevance of intention in the moral evaluation of acts, the book moves against a mainstream, 'objective' approach in normative ethics. It is commonly held that the intentions, knowledge, and volition of agents are irrelevant to the moral permissibility of their acts. This book stresses that the capacities of agency, rather than simply the label 'agent', must be engaged during an (...)
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  6. Between Daily Routine and Violent Protest: Interpreting the Technicity of Action.Ernst Wolff - 2021 - Boston: De Gruyter.
    Human action has a technical dimension. This book is a hermeneutic and social theoretical interpretation of how acquired capabilities and the means of action together shape the technicity of action. The enactment of individual, group, and institutio.
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  7. "Person and Act" and Related Essays.John Paul - 2021 - Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
    A new translation, with scholarly notes and textual annotations based on new research into archival collections, of Wojtyla's most well-know philosophical work and related fragments, addresses, and letters.
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  8. Review of Tamar Schapiro 'Feeling Like It'. [REVIEW]Juan S. Piñeros Glasscock - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    Review of Tamar Schapiro, 'Feeling Like It'.
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  9. Guard Against Temptation: Intrapersonal Team Reasoning and the Role of Intentions in Exercising Willpower.Natalie Gold - 2022 - Noûs 56 (3):554-569.
    Sometimes we make a decision about an action we will undertake later and form an intention, but our judgment of what it is best to do undergoes a temporary shift when the time for action comes round. What makes it rational not to give in to temptation? Many contemporary solutions privilege diachronic rationality; in some “rational non-reconsideration” (RNR) accounts once the agent forms an intention, it is rational not to reconsider. This leads to other puzzles: how can someone be motivated (...)
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  10. Action and Production.Stephen White - 2022 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 22 (2):271-294.
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  11. All of Your Choices Matter. Charakterbildungsrelevante Entscheidungen in Videospielen am Beispiel von Telltales The Walking Dead.Rebecca Bachmann - 2019 - In Vom Binge Watching zum Binge Thinking. Untersuchungen im Wechselspiel zwischen Wissenschaften und Popkultur. Bielefeld, Deutschland: pp. 81-100.
    This paper is devoted to the concept of decisions in video games. In doing so, I start from the frequently applied criticism that they are irrelevant, since the course of the game is almost identical regardless of the individual decision. I follow this criticism with examples from "Telltale's The Walking Dead - Season Two" and work out a certain understanding of decisions in video games that characterizes them as relevant to the outcome. In contrast, using Robert Kane's theory of free (...)
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  12. The Moral Problem.Christian Seidel - 2016 - In Michael Kühler & Markus Rüther (eds.), Handbuch Handlungstheorie: Grundlagen, Kontexte, Perspektiven. Stuttgart, Deutschland: pp. 309-315.
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  13. “Responsibility After ‘Morality’: Strawson’s Naturalism and Williams’ Genealogy”.Paul Russell - forthcoming - In Audun Bengtson, Benjamin De Mesel & Sybren Heyndels (eds.), P.F. STRAWSON AND HIS LEGACY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    “Responsibility After ‘Morality’: Strawson’s Naturalism and Williams’ Genealogy” -/- Although P.F. Strawson and Bernard Williams have both made highly significant and influential contributions on the subject of moral responsibility they never directly engaged with the views of each other. On one natural reading their views are directly opposed. Strawson seeks to discredit scepticism about moral responsibility by means of naturalistic observations and arguments. Williams, by contrast, employs genealogical methods to support sceptical conclusions about moral responsibility (and blame). This way of (...)
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  14. Du Châtelet’s Libertarianism.Aaron Wells - 2022 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 38 (3):219-241.
    There is a growing consensus that Emilie Du Châtelet’s challenging essay “On Freedom” defends compatibilism. I offer an alternative, libertarian reading of the essay. I lay out the prima facie textual evidence for such a reading. I also explain how apparently compatibilist remarks in “On Freedom” can be read as aspects of a sophisticated type of libertarianism that rejects blind or arbitrary choice. To this end, I consider the historical context of Du Châtelet’s essay, and especially the dialectic between various (...)
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  15. G.E.M Anscombe, Scritti di etica, a cura di Sergio Cremaschi.Sergio Cremaschi & Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe - 2022 - Brescia: Morcelliana.
    -/- Did the US president who signed the order to use the atomic bomb stain his hands with blood or just ink? Are there cases in which a war is just? In such cases, is any war justifiable? Is ending the life of a terminally ill person different from murder? Do we need to agree on the definition of the embryo as a 'person' to know whether any action on the embryo is prohibited? Is the prohibition of contraception justified even (...)
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  16. Phénoménologie de L’Action: Perspectives Contemporaines Sur L’Agentivité Et le Sujet.Federico Boccaccini (ed.) - 2022 - Boston: Brill.
    Cet ouvrage pionnier dans le domaine de la phénoménologie contemporaine présente l'avant-garde de la recherche sur l’histoire et la philosophie de l’action du point de vue de la première personne. Une étude incontournable pour toute personne travaillant dans cette tradition. This groundbreaking book in contemporary phenomenology offers the cutting-edge of research on both history and philosophy of action from the first-person point of view. An essential study for anyone working in this area.
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  17. Actions Embedded in Forms of Life.Margit Gaffal - 2016 - In Jesús Padilla Gálvez (ed.), Action, Decision-Making and Forms of Life. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. pp. 45-59.
    n this paper I propose that any action attained through education and for-mation is embedded in a person’s form of life. The experiences that one was exposed to in early socialisation are crucial for the construction of a form of life. Actions are not regarded as acts per se or solely conceived of as singular move-ments but they are linguistically introduced and practiced. Someone’s acting or behaving in a specific way becomes manifest in language. Individuals com-municate with each other through (...)
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  18. Ethics of Computer Gaming: A Groundwork.Samuel Ulbricht - 2022 - Berlin: Springer Berlin: Palgrave Macmillan.
    Despite the increasing number of gamers worldwide, the moral classification of computer gaming marks an as yet unsolved riddle of philosophical ethics. In view of the explosive nature of the topic in everyday life (as seen in various debates about rampages), it is obvious that a differentiated professional clarification of the phenomenon is needed: Can playing computer games be immoral? -/- To answer this question, the author first discusses what we do at all when we play computer games: What kind (...)
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  19. Against the Distinction Between Intentions for the Future and Intentions for the Present.Chiara Brozzo - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 4 (58):333-346.
    How should we account for the planning and performance of a bodily action in terms of the agent’s intentions? An influential answer invokes two distinct kinds of intention: intentions for the future (also known as prior intentions or distal intentions), responsible for action planning, and intentions for the present (also known as intentions in action or proximal intentions), responsible for action performance. I argue that there is something wrong with this influential answer: the notion of intention for the present is (...)
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  20. Accessing Self-Control.Polaris Koi - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-20.
    Self-control is that which is enacted to align our behaviour with intentions, motives, or better judgment in the face of conflicting impulses of motives. In this paper, I ask, what explains interpersonal differences in self-control? After defending a functionalist conception of self-control, I argue that differences in self-control are analogous to differences in mobility: they are modulated by inherent traits and environmental supports and constraints in interaction. This joint effect of individual biology and environmental factors is best understood in terms (...)
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  21. Talking about Good Deeds: Elaborative Discourse and Moral Virtue.Sabrina Little - 2021 - Journal of Value Inquiry 55 (4):725-743.
  22. The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency.Tobias Keiling & Christopher Erhard (eds.) - 2020 - New York, NY: Routledge.
    Phenomenology has primarily been concerned with questions about knowledge and ontology. However, in recent years the rise of interest and research in phenomenology and embodiment, the emotions and cognitive science has seen the concept of agency move to a central place in the study of phenomenology generally. The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency is an outstanding reference source to this topic and the first volume of its kind. It comprises twenty-seven chapters written by leading international contributors. Organised into two (...)
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  23. The Claimability Condition: Rights as Action‐Guiding Standards.Cristián Rettig - 2020 - Journal of Social Philosophy 51 (2):322-340.
    Journal of Social Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  24. On Fundamental Responsibility.Anna Sara Malmgren - 2019 - Philosophical Issues 29 (1):198-213.
    Some psychological states—paradigmatically, beliefs and intentions—are rationally evaluable: they can be rational or irrational, justified or unjustified. Other states—e.g. sensations and gastrointestinal states—aren’t: they’re a-rational. On a familiar but hard-to-make-precise line of thought, at least part of what explains this difference is that we’re somehow responsible for (having/being in) states of the former sort, in a way we’re not for the others. But this responsibility can’t be modeled on the responsibility we have for our (free, intentional) actions. So how should (...)
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  25. Can Desires Determine Ends?Gal Yehezkel - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (8):1064-1077.
    According to a common view of human agency, desires determine at least some of the ends that agents set for themselves. In this paper, I argue that this view is false. I show that without reason’s ability to determine the means to an end it is impossible to determine ends. Furthermore, even when an end is determined in light of a desire, only reason can make sense of the distinction between an end and merely a means to that end. In (...)
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  26. Action and Its Explanation.David-Hillel Ruben - 2003 - Duke University Press.
    an examination of both the causal theory of action and the agent causalist theory, and a proposal for a third alternative.
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  27. Action.Fred I. Dretske & Malcolm Knox - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):251.
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  28. 5. The New Problem of the Imputability of Actions.Robert Greenberg - 2016 - In The Bounds of Freedom: Kant’s Causal Theory of Action. De Gruyter. pp. 61-80.
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  29. 5. Rational Agency.Paul Fairfield - 2000 - In Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 184-209.
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  30. Some Proposals for Action.Luther H. Evans - 1962 - Isis 53 (1):101-105.
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  31. Sincere-Strategy Preference-Based Approval Voting Fully Resists Constructive Control and Broadly Resists Destructive Control.Gábor Erdélyi, Markus Nowak & Jörg Rothe - 2009 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 55 (4):425-443.
    We study sincere-strategy preference-based approval voting, a system proposed by Brams and Sanver [1] and here adjusted so as to coerce admissibility of the votes, with respect to procedural control. In such control scenarios, an external agent seeks to change the outcome of an election via actions such as adding/deleting/partitioning either candidates or voters. SP-AV combines the voters' preference rankings with their approvals of candidates, where in elections with at least two candidates the voters' approval strategies are adjusted – if (...)
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  32. L'action. Tome II. L'action Humain Et les Conditions de Son Aboutissement. [REVIEW]B. G. - 1938 - Journal of Philosophy 35 (8):222-222.
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  33. 3. Thought and Action.Stuart Hampshire - 2014 - In Bernard Williams (ed.), Essays and Reviews: 1959-2002. Princeton University Press. pp. 8-17.
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  34. A New American Agency. Russell - 1958 - Hibbert Journal 57:1.
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  35. LAWRENCE, R. "Motive and Intention". [REVIEW]O. Hanfling - 1975 - Mind 84:142.
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  36. The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya.V. Mangalvedkar - 1919 - Indian Literature Publishers.
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  37. Speech and Action in Heraclitus. On the Theoretical Foundations of Moral Action.Michel Fattal - 2013 - Archiwum Historii Filozofii I Myśli Społecznej 58.
    Doesn’t the originality of Heraclitus reside in elaborating, well before Socrates and Plato, a philosophical and theoretical reflection on the foundations of moral and political action? In what ways does Heraclitus envisage the relations between speech and action? The logos and epos of the philosopher, which are behind the doctrine of the harmony of opposites, don’t they offer a pathway, a stable criterion and norm for individual and collective action?Our contemporaries of the 21th century, conscious of the “crisis of values” (...)
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  38. Modelling Experiments as Mediating Models.T. R. Addis & D. C. Gooding - 2008 - Foundations of Science 13 (1):17-35.
    We argue that abduction does not work in isolation from other inference mechanisms and illustrate this through an inference scheme designed to evaluate multiple hypotheses. We use game theory to relate the abductive system to actions that produce new information. To enable evaluation of the implications of this approach we have implemented the procedures used to calculate the impact of new information in a computer model. Experiments with this model display a number of features of collective belief-revision leading to consensus-formation, (...)
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  39. Order, Action, Victimage.”.Kenneth Burke - 1968 - In Paul Grimley Kuntz (ed.), The Concept of Order. Seattle, Published for Grinnell College by the University of Washington Press. pp. 167--90.
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  40. WhatValues Underlie Our Actions?Graeme MacQueen - 2008 - In Neil Arya & Joanna Santa Barbara (eds.), Peace Through Health: How Health Professionals Can Work for a Less Violent World. Kumarian Press. pp. 1075.
  41. Action, See Interpreting Human Action Age Trends, 64 Harm Versus Intention, 65 Altruism. 430-434 Rescuers, 440-442.Sociomoral Competence Scales & Piaget Egocentrism - 1991 - In William M. Kurtines & Jacob L. Gewirtz (eds.), Handbook of Moral Behavior and Development. L. Erlbaum. pp. 459.
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  42. The Case for “Effector”: Case Roles, Agents, and Agency Revisited.Robert D. Van Valin & David Wilkins - 1996 - In Masayoshi Shibatani & Sandra Thompson (eds.), Grammatical Constructions. Clarendon Press.
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  43. 8 The Sources of Behavior: Toward a Naturalistic, Control Account of Agency.Bernhard Schlink - 2007 - In Don Ross, David Spurrett, Harold Kincaid & G. Lynn Stephens (eds.), Distributed Cognition and the Will: Individual Volition and Social Context. MIT Press. pp. 123.
  44. Control of Action and Interaction: Perceiving and Producing Effects in Action and Interaction with Objects1.Liselotte van Leeuwen, Franz Kaufrnann & Daniel Walther - 2000 - In Walter J. Perrig & Alexander Grob (eds.), Control of Human Behavior, Mental Processes, and Consciousness: Essays in Honor of the 60th Birthday of August Flammer. Erlbaum.
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  45. 1 Action by Cases.Krister Segerberg - 1995 - In G. Crocco, Luis Fariñas del Cerro & Andreas Herzig (eds.), Conditionals: From Philosophy to Computer Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 5--241.
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  46. How Not to Naturalize the Theory of Action.Peter Slezak - 1989 - In Computers, Brains and Minds. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 137--166.
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  47. The Mind's Construction: The Ontology of Mind and Mental Action.Matthew Soteriou - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Matthew Soteriou provides an original philosophical account of sensory and cognitive aspects of consciousness. He explores distinctions of temporal character in our mental lives--especially in relation to the exercise of agency--and illuminates the more general issue of the place and role of mental action in the metaphysics of mind.
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  48. The Social Dimension of Action Theory.Raimo Tuomela - 1991 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 3:145-158.
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  49. A Defense of Physicalism.Steven John Jensen - 1997 - The Thomist 61 (3):377-404.
  50. Les Apories de L'Action. Essai d'Une Épistémologie de l'Action Morale Et Politique, A. Kremer-Marietti.Benoît R. Timmermans - 1997 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 57:453.
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