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* (2,741 | 502)
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  1. Refitting the Mirrors: On Structural Analogies in Epistemology and Action Theory.Lisa Miracchi & J. Adam Carter - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Structural analogies connect Williamson’s epistemology and action theory: for example, action is the direction-of-fit mirror image of knowledge, and knowledge stands to belief as action stands to intention. These structural analogies, for Williamson, are meant to illuminate more generally how ‘mirrors’ reversing direction of fit should be understood as connecting the spectrum of our cognitive and practically oriented mental states. This paper has two central aims, one negative and the other positive. The negative aim is to highlight some intractable problems (...)
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  2. Beyond the Courtroom: Agency and the Perception of Free Will.Edouard Machery, Markus Kneer, Pascale Willemsen & Albert Newen - forthcoming - In Samuel Murray & Paul Henne (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Action.
    In this paper, we call for a new approach to the psychology of free will attribution. While past research in experimental philosophy and psychology has mostly been focused on reasoning- based judgment (“the courtroom approach”), we argue that like agency and mindedness, free will can also be experienced perceptually (“the perceptual approach”). We further propose a new model of free will attribution—the agency model—according to which the experience of free will is elicited by the perceptual cues that prompt the attribution (...)
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  3. Anorexia Nervosa: Illusion in the Sense of Agency (Preprint-- Please Cite Published Version).Amanda Evans - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    The aim of this paper is to provide a novel analysis of anorexia nervosa (AN) in the context of the sense of agency literature. I first show that two accounts of anorexia nervosa that we ought to take seriously— i.e., the first personal reports of those who have experienced it firsthand as well as the research that seeks to explain anorexic behavior from an empirical perspective— appear to be thoroughly in tension with one another in their descriptions of anorexic actions. (...)
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  4. Is There a Human Right to Subsistence Goods?Cristián Rettig - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Research 46:243-260.
    The much-discussed “claimability objection” holds that it is unjustified to believe that all individuals have a human right to subsistence because the bearers of the correlative duties are not sufficiently determined. This argument is based on the so-called “claimability-condition”: S has a right to P if and only if the duty-bearer is sufficiently determined. Practice-based theorists defend the human right to subsistence by arguing that if we take the existing human rights practice seriously, there is no indeterminacy about the allocation (...)
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  5. The Fundamental Unity Of Voluntary And Involuntary Actions.Aadarsh Singh - manuscript
    Social structure of our society decides the actions that are allowed by any individual human being. All the actions of an individual are characterized into voluntary or involuntary actions, which decides the behaviour of society towards that individual for that action. In this paper it has been shown that the characterization of action into these two categories is fundamentally flawed.
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  6. John McDowell on Worldly Subjectivity: Oxford Kantianism Meets Phenomenology and Cognitive Sciences.Tony Cheng - 2021 - Bloomsbury Academic.
    John McDowell's philosophical ideas are both influential and comprehensive, encompassing philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, epistemology, ethics, metaphysics and the history of philosophy. This book is a much-needed systematic overview of McDowell's thought that offers a clear and accessible route through the main elements of his philosophy. Arguing that the world and minded human subject are constitutively interdependent, the book examines and critically engages with McDowell's views on naturalism of second nature, the inner space model, intentionality, personhood and practical (...)
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  7. A Counterfactual Account of Diachronic Structural Rationality.Franz Altner - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64:1-30.
    Philosophers who take rationality to consist in the satisfaction of rational requirements typically favour rational requirements that govern mental attitudes at a time rather than across times. One such account has been developed by Broome in Rationality through reasoning. He claims that diachronic functional properties of intentions such as settling on courses of actions and resolving conflicts are emergent properties that can be explained with reference to synchronic rational pressures. This is why he defends only a minimal diachronic requirement which (...)
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  8. What is Economics For?Brendan Hogan - 2020 - In Peter Rona, Laszlo Zolnai & Agnieszka Wincewicz-Price (eds.), Words, Objects and Events in Economics: The Making of Economic Theory.
    The methodological foundations of any scientific discipline are shaped by the goals towards which that discipline is aiming. While it is almost universally accepted that the goals of explanation and prediction of natural and non-human phenomena have been met with great success since the scientific revolution, it is almost just as universally accepted that the social sciences have not even come close to achieving these goals. This raises the question addressed in this paper, namely, what is economics, and social science (...)
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  9. 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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  10. 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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  11. Action.Fred I. Dretske & Malcolm Knox - 1971 - Philosophical Review 80 (2):251.
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  12. 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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  13. 5. Rational Agency.Paul Fairfield - 2000 - In Moral Selfhood in the Liberal Tradition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 184-209.
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  14. Catholic Action and Unemployables.L. O'Hea - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):606-609.
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  15. The Apostolate of the Laity Through Catholic Action.Victor White - 1934 - New Blackfriars 15 (174):575-582.
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  16. The Action Ofeucomis Undulata, Ait.J. W. C. Gunn - 1922 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 10 (1):1-4.
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  17. The Action Ofurginea Burkei.J. W. C. Gunn - 1921 - Transactions of the Royal Society of South Africa 9 (2):197-204.
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  18. Some Proposals for Action.Luther H. Evans - 1962 - Isis 53 (1):101-105.
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  19. 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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  20. 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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  21. 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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  22. Human Thought and Action.Forrest E. Baird - 1992 - Upa.
    A book of readings in Western intellectual history focusing on the role of reason in human action. Contents:^ Plato: Myth of the Cave; Plato: ^IThe Four Virtues; Aristotle: Knowledge of Causes; Aristotle: The Types of Governments; Epicurus: Epicureanism; Epictetus: Stoicism; St. Augustine: The Platonist; St. Augustine: The Nature of Sources of Evil; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Four Laws; St. Thomas Aquinas: The Nature of the Soul; Pico: The Oration on the Dignity of Man; John Calvin: Reason, Sin and Illumination; St. (...)
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  23. A New American Agency. Russell - 1958 - Hibbert Journal 57:1.
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  24. LAWRENCE, R. "Motive and Intention". [REVIEW]O. Hanfling - 1975 - Mind 84:142.
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  25. The Philosophy of Action of Lok. B.G. Tilak's Githarahasya.V. Mangalvedkar - 1919 - Indian Literature Publishers.
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  26. 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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  27. Simulation Methods for an Abductive System in Science.T. R. Addis & D. C. Gooding - 2008 - Foundations of Science 13 (1):37-52.
    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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  28. 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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  29. 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.
  30. 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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  31. 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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  32. 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.
  33. 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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  34. 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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  35. 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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  36. 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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  37. The Social Dimension of Action Theory.Raimo Tuomela - 1991 - Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 3:145-158.
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  38. A Defense of Physicalism.Steven John Jensen - 1997 - The Thomist 61 (3):377-404.
  39. 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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  40. A Call to Action.Gary Sprandel - 1982 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 12 (2):12-13.
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  41. Metaphysics of the Difference Between the Theoretical and the Practical: Towards the Responsibility for Our Own Action.V. Suvak - 2003 - Filozofia 58 (3):199-208.
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  42. Action.Richard Taylor & Malcolm Knox - 1970 - Philosophical Quarterly 20 (80):305.
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  43. The Voluntary Action of the Earthly Christ and the Necessity of the Beatific Vision.Thomas Joseph White - 2005 - The Thomist 69 (4):497-534.
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  44. Interpassive Agency: Engaging Actor-Network-Theory's View on the Agency of Objects.Gijs van Oenen - 2011 - Theory and Event 14 (2).
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  45. Action.Elizabeth Telfer - 1969 - Philosophical Books 10 (3):13-15.
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  46. Action.G. N. A. Vesey - 1969 - Philosophical Books 10 (3):1-2.
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  47. Action and Purpose.Alan R. White - 1967 - Philosophical Books 8 (3):23-24.
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  48. Tudorel Andrei Ion Gh. Roşca Andreea Iluzia Iacob.Stelian Stancu - 2008 - Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 7 (21):20-43.
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  49. Cephalic Organization: Animacy and Agency.Jay Schulkin - 2008 - Contemporary Pragmatism 5 (1):61-77.
    Humans come prepared to recognize two fundamental features of our surroundings: animate objects and agents. This recognition begins early in ontogeny and pervades our ecological and social space. This cognitive capacity reveals an important adaptation and sets the conditions for pervasive shared experiences. One feature of our species and our evolved cephalic substrates is that we are prepared to recognize self-propelled action in others. Our cultural evolution is knotted to an expanding sense of shared experiences.
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  50. Being Human: The Problem of Agency.Don Seeman - 2003 - Common Knowledge 9 (1):167-168.
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