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On Action

Philosophical Quarterly 41 (165):498-500 (1991)

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  1. Is Conscious Will an Illusion?Jing Zhu - 2004 - Disputatio 1 (16):59 - 70.
    In this essay I critically examine Daniel Wegner’s account of conscious will as an illusion developed in his book The Illusion of Conscious Will. I show that there are unwarranted leaps in his argument, which considerably decrease the empirical plausibility and theoretical adequacy of his account. Moreover, some features essential to our experience of willing, which are related to our general understanding of free will, moral responsibility and human agency, are largely left out in Wegner’s account of conscious will. This (...)
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  • Is Conscious Will an Illusion?Jing Zhu - 2004 - Disputatio 1 (16):58-70.
    In this essay I critically examine Daniel Wegner’s account of conscious will as an illusion developed in his book The Illusion of Conscious Will. I show that there are unwarranted leaps in his argument, which considerably decrease the empirical plausibility and theoretical adequacy of his account. Moreover, some features essential to our experience of willing, which are related to our general understanding of free will, moral responsibility and human agency, are largely left out in Wegner’s account of conscious will. This (...)
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  • Emotion and Action.Jing Zhu & Paul Thagard - 2002 - Philosophical Psychology 15 (1):19 – 36.
    The role of emotion in human action has long been neglected in the philosophy of action. Some prevalent misconceptions of the nature of emotion are responsible for this neglect: emotions are irrational; emotions are passive; and emotions have only an insignificant impact on actions. In this paper we argue that these assumptions about the nature of emotion are problematic and that the neglect of emotion's place in theories of action is untenable. More positively, we argue on the basis of recent (...)
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  • Hume and the Phenomenology of Agency.Joshua M. Wood - 2014 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 44 (3-4):496-517.
    Some philosophers argue that Hume, given his theory of causation, is committed to an implausibly thin account of what it is like to act voluntarily. Others suggest, on the basis of his argument against free will, that Hume takes no more than an illusory feature of action to distinguish the experience of performing an act from the experience of merely observing an act. In this paper, I argue that Hume is committed to neither an unduly parsimonious nor a sceptical account (...)
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  • A Defense of Frankfurt-Friendly Libertarianism.David Widerker - 2009 - Philosophical Explorations 12 (2):87 – 108.
    Elsewhere, I proposed a libertarian-based account of freedom and moral blameworthiness which like Harry Frankfurt's 1969 account rejects the principle of alternative possibilities (which I call, Frankfurt-friendly libertarianism). In this paper I develop this account further (a) by responding to an important objection to it raised by Carlos Moya; (b) by exploring the question why, if unavoidability per se does not exonerate from blame, the Frankfurt-friendly libertarian is justified in exculpating an agent under determinism; (c) by arguing that some main (...)
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  • A New Argument Against Libertarian Free Will?David Widerker - 2016 - Analysis 76 (3):296-306.
    In this paper, I present an argument that shows that the belief in libertarian freedom is inconsistent with two assumptions widely accepted by those who are physicalists with regard to the relation between the mental and the physical - that mental properties are distinct from physical properties, and that mental properties supervene on physical properties. After presenting the argument, I trace its implications for the question of the compatibility of libertarian free will and physicalism in general.
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  • Forking Paths and Freedom: A Challenge to Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.Robyn Repko Waller & Russell L. Waller - 2015 - Philosophia 43 (4):1199-1212.
    The aim of this paper is to challenge libertarian accounts of free will. It is argued that there is an irreconcilable tension between the way in which philosophers motivate the incompatibilist ability to do otherwise and the way in which they formally express it. Potential incompatibilist responses in the face of this tension are canvassed, and it is argued that each response is problematic. It is not claimed that incompatibilist accounts in general are incoherent, but rather that any incompatibilist account (...)
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  • Minimal Authorship (of Sorts).Christy Mag Uidhir - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 154 (3):373 - 387.
    I propose a minimal account of authorship that specifies the fundamental nature of the author-relation and its minimal domain composition in terms of a three-place causal-intentional relation holding between agents and sort-relative works. I contrast my account with the minimal account tacitly held by most authorship theories, which is a two-place relation holding between agents and works simpliciter. I claim that only my view can ground productive and informative principled distincitons between collective production and collective authorship.
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  • The Incompatibility of Free Will and Naturalism.Jason Turner - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (4):565-587.
    The Consequence Argument is a staple in the defense of libertarianism, the view that free will is incompatible with determinism and that humans have free will. It is often thought that libertarianism is consistent with a certain naturalistic view of the world — that is, that libertarian free will can be had without metaphysical commitments beyond those pro- vided by our best (indeterministic) physics. In this paper, I argue that libertarians who endorse the Consequence Argument are forced to reject this (...)
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  • Intentional Single and Joint Action.Raimo Tuomela - 1991 - Philosophical Studies 62 (3):235 - 262.
  • Soft Facts and Ontological Dependence.Patrick Todd - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (3):829-844.
    In the literature on free will, fatalism, and determinism, a distinction is commonly made between temporally intrinsic (‘hard’) and temporally relational (‘soft’) facts at times; determinism, for instance, is the thesis that the temporally intrinsic state of the world at some given past time, together with the laws, entails a unique future (relative to that time). Further, it is commonly supposed by incompatibilists that only the ‘hard facts’ about the past are fixed and beyond our control, whereas the ‘soft facts’ (...)
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  • Against Limited Foreknowledge.Patrick Todd - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (2):523-538.
    Theological fatalists contend that if God knows everything, then no human action is free, and that since God does know everything, no human action is free. One reply to such arguments that has become popular recently— a way favored by William Hasker and Peter van Inwagen—agrees that if God knows everything, no human action is free. The distinctive response of these philosophers is simply to say that therefore God does not know everything. On this view, what the fatalist arguments in (...)
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  • Moral Competence, Moral Blame, and Protest.Matthew Talbert - 2012 - The Journal of Ethics 16 (1):89-109.
    I argue that wrongdoers may be open to moral blame even if they lacked the capacity to respond to the moral considerations that counted against their behavior. My initial argument turns on the suggestion that even an agent who cannot respond to specific moral considerations may still guide her behavior by her judgments about reasons. I argue that this explanation of a wrongdoer’s behavior can qualify her for blame even if her capacity for moral understanding is impaired. A second argument (...)
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  • Consequentialism and Free Will.Maria Svedberg & Torbjörn Tännsjö - 2017 - The Harvard Review of Philosophy 24:23-41.
    Many moral theories incorporate the idea that when an action is wrong, it is wrong because that there was something else that the agent could and should have done instead. Most notable among these are consequentialist theories. According to consequentialism an action A is wrong if and only if there was another action B that the agent could have performed such that, if the agent had performed B instead of A, the consequences would have been better. Relatively little attention has (...)
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  • From Volitionalism to the Dual Aspect Theory of Action.Joshua Stuchlik - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (3):867-886.
    Volitionalism is a theory of action motivated by certain shortcomings in the standard causal theory of action. However, volitionalism is vulnerable to the objection that it distorts the phenomenology of embodied agency. Arguments for volitionalism typically proceed by attempting to establish three claims: (1) that whenever an agent acts, she tries or wills to act, (2) that it is possible for volitions to occur even in the absence of bodily movement, and (3) that in cases of successful bodily actions the (...)
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  • Minimally Creative Thought.Dustin Stokes - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (5):658-681.
    Creativity has received, and continues to receive, comparatively little analysis in philosophy and the brain and behavioural sciences. This is in spite of the importance of creative thought and action, and the many and varied resources of theories of mind. Here an alternative approach to analyzing creativity is suggested: start from the bottom up with minimally creative thought. Minimally creative thought depends non-accidentally upon agency, is novel relative to the acting agent, and could not have been tokened before the time (...)
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  • A New Kantian Response to Maxim-Fiddling.Andrew Sneddon - 2011 - Kantian Review 16 (1):67-88.
    There has long been a suspicion that Kant's test for the universalizability of maxims can be easily subverted: instead of risking failing the test, design your maxim for any action whatsoever in a manner guaranteed to pass. This is the problem of maxim-fiddling. The present discussion of this problem has two theses: 1] That extant approaches to maxim-fiddling are not satisfactory;2] That a satisfactory response to maxim-fiddling can be articulated using Kantian resources, especially the first two formulations of the categorical (...)
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  • A Reflection on Our Freedom.Matthew H. Slater - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):327-330.
    Many Compatibilists seem to suppose that discover that we lived in a deterministic world would not unseat our confidence that many of our actions are nevertheless free. Here's a short story about such confidence becoming unseated.
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  • Can a Corporation Be Worthy of Moral Consideration?Kenneth Silver - 2019 - Journal of Business Ethics 159 (1):253-265.
    Much has been written about what corporations owe society and whether it is appropriate to hold them responsible. In contrast, little has been written about whether anything is owed to corporations apart from what is owed to their members. And when this question has been addressed, the answer has always been that corporations are not worthy of any distinct moral consideration. This is even claimed by proponents of corporate agency. In this paper, I argue that proponents of corporate agency should (...)
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  • The Contours of Control.Joshua Shepherd - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 170 (3):395-411.
    Necessarily, if S lacks the ability to exercise control, S is not an agent. If S is not an agent, S cannot act intentionally, responsibly, or rationally, nor can S possess or exercise free will. In spite of the obvious importance of control, however, no general account of control exists. In this paper I reflect on the nature of control itself. I develop accounts of control ’s exercise and control ’s possession that illuminate what it is for degrees of control (...)
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  • Reasons and Causes.Kieran Setiya - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (1):129-157.
    Argues for a causal-psychological account of acting for reasons. This view is distinguished from a more ambitious causal theory of action, clarified as far as possible, and motivated—against non-reductive, teleological, and behaviourist alternatives—on broadly metaphysical grounds.
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  • Double Defence Against Multiple Case Manipulation Arguments.Maria Sekatskaya - 2019 - Philosophia 47 (4):1283-1295.
    The article aims to show that compatibilism can be defended against Pereboom’s ‘Four Case’ Manipulation Argument, hereinafter referred to as 4-Case MA, by combining the soft-line and the hard-line replies. In the first section, I argue that the original version of the 4-Case MA was refuted by the soft-line reply, but Pereboom’s modified version of the argument can’t be refuted this way. In the second section, I analyse McKenna’s hard-line reply to the original Pereboom’s 4-Case MA and argue that it (...)
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  • Making a Difference in a Deterministic World.Carolina Sartorio - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (2):189-214.
    Some philosophers have claimed that causally determined agents are not morally responsible because they cannot make a difference in the world. A recent response by philosophers who defend the compatibility of determinism and responsibility has been to concede that causally determined agents are incapable of making a difference, but to argue that responsibility is not grounded in difference making. These compatibilists have rested such a claim on Frankfurt cases—cases where agents are intuitively responsible for acts that they couldn’t have failed (...)
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  • Actual Causes and Free Will.Carolina Sartorio - 2017 - Disputatio 9 (45):147-165.
    In this paper I reexamine the debate between two contrasting conceptions of free will: the classical model, which understands freedom in terms of alternative possibilities, and a more recent family of views that focus only on actual causes, and that were inspired by Frankfurt’s famous attack on the principle of alternative possibilities. I offer a novel argument in support of the actual-causes model, one that bypasses the popular debate about Frankfurt-style cases.
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  • Free Will and Contextualism.Steven Rieber - 2006 - Philosophical Studies 129 (2):223-252.
    This paper proposes a contextualist solution to the puzzle about free will. It argues that the context-sensitivity of statements about freedom of the will follows from the correct analysis of these statements. Because the analysis is independently plausible, the contextualism is warranted not merely in virtue of its capacity to solve the puzzle.
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  • The Accomplishment of Plans: A New Version of the Principle of Double Effect.Alexander R. Pruss - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (1):49-69.
    The classical principle of double effect offers permissibility conditions for actions foreseen to lead to evil outcomes. I shall argue that certain kinds of closeness cases, as well as general heuristic considerations about the order of explanation, lead us to replace the intensional concept of intention with the extensional concept of accomplishment in double effect.
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  • Omnirationality.Alexander R. Pruss - 2013 - Res Philosophica 90 (1):1-21.
    God is omnirational: whenever he does anything, he does it for all and only the unexcluded reasons that favor the action, and he always acts for reasons. Thisdoctrine has two unexpected consequences: it gives an account of why it is that unification is a genuine form of scientific explanation, and it answers the question of when the occurrence of E after a petitionary prayer for E is an answer to the prayer.
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  • A Plea for Mental Acts.Joëlle Proust - 2001 - Synthese 129 (1):105-128.
    A prominent but poorly understood domain of human agency is mental action, i.e., thecapacity for reaching specific desirable mental statesthrough an appropriate monitoring of one's own mentalprocesses. The present paper aims to define mentalacts, and to defend their explanatory role againsttwo objections. One is Gilbert Ryle's contention thatpostulating mental acts leads to an infinite regress.The other is a different although related difficulty,here called the access puzzle: How can the mindalready know how to act in order to reach somepredefined result? A (...)
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  • Choosing Your Poison and the Time of a Killing.Auke J. K. Pols - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):719-733.
    The problem of the time of a killing is often cited as providing grounds for rejecting the action identification thesis favoured by Anscombe and Davidson. In this paper I make three claims. First, I claim that this problem is a threat to the action identification thesis because of two assumptions the thesis makes: since the thesis takes actions to be a kind of doings, it has to assume that agents’ doings last as long as their actions and vice versa. Second, (...)
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  • Framing Event Variables.Paul M. Pietroski - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):31-60.
    Davidsonian analyses of action reports like ‘Alvin chased Theodore around a tree’ are often viewed as supporting the hypothesis that sentences of a human language H have truth conditions that can be specified by a Tarski-style theory of truth for H. But in my view, simple cases of adverbial modification add to the reasons for rejecting this hypothesis, even though Davidson rightly diagnosed many implications involving adverbs as cases of conjunct-reduction in the scope of an existential quantifier. I think the (...)
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  • The Disappearing Agent Objection to Event-Causal Libertarianism.Derk Pereboom - 2012 - Philosophical Studies (1):1-11.
    The question I raise is whether Mark Balaguer’s event-causal libertarianism can withstand the disappearing agent objection. The concern is that with the causal role of the events antecedent to a decision already given, nothing settles whether the decision occurs, and so the agent does not settle whether the decision occurs. Thus it would seem that in this view the agent will not have the control in making decisions required for moral responsibility. I examine whether Balaguer’s position has the resources to (...)
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  • Powers, Laws and Freedom of the Will: Steven Horst: Laws, Mind, and Free Will. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011, 277pp, $36.00 HB.Derk Pereboom - 2014 - Metascience 23 (3):491-495.
    Laws, Mind, and Free Will is a highly valuable book for anyone interested in philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, or in the problem of free will and moral responsibility. The book has three distinct but related parts. The first presents an anti-empiricist position on the laws of nature, according to which the point of the laws is not primarily to predict kinematic outcomes, but rather to characterize dynamics. One upshot of the account is that the laws have an attenuated (...)
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  • A Defense of Free Will Skepticism: Replies to Commentaries by Victor Tadros, Saul Smilansky, Michael McKenna, and Alfred R. Mele on Free Will, Agency, and Meaning in Life.Derk Pereboom - 2017 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 11 (3):617-636.
    This paper features Derk Pereboom’s replies to commentaries by Victor Tadros and Saul Smilansky on his non-retributive, incapacitation-focused proposal for treatment of dangerous criminals; by Michael McKenna on his manipulation argument against compatibilism about basic desert and causal determination; and by Alfred R. Mele on his disappearing agent argument against event-causal libertarianism.
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  • The Explanatory Power of Local Miracle Compatibilism.Garrett Pendergraft - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (2):249-266.
    Local miracle compatibilists claim that we are sometimes able to do otherwise than we actually do, even if causal determinism obtains. When we can do otherwise, it will often be true that if we were to do otherwise, then an actual law of nature would not have been a law of nature. Nevertheless, it is a compatibilist principle that we cannot do anything that would be or cause an event that violates the laws of nature. Carl Ginet challenges this nomological (...)
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  • Robust Individual Responsibility for Climate Harms.Gianfranco Pellegrino - 2018 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21 (4):811-823.
    According to some scholars, while sets of greenhouse gases emissions generate harms deriving from climate change, which can be mitigated through collective actions, individual emissions and mitigation activities seem to be causally insufficient to cause harms. If so, single individuals are neither responsible for climate harms, nor they have mitigation duties. If this view were true, there would be collective responsibility for climate harms without individual responsibility and collective mitigation duties without individual duties: this is puzzling. This paper explores a (...)
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  • Trying Slips: Can Davidson and Hornsby Account for Mistakes and Slips?Kay Peabody - 2005 - Philosophia 33 (1-4):173-216.
  • Know-How, Action, and Luck.Carlotta Pavese - 2018 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 7):1595-1617.
    A good surgeon knows how to perform a surgery; a good architect knows how to design a house. We value their know-how. We ordinarily look for it. What makes it so valuable? A natural response is that know-how is valuable because it explains success. A surgeon’s know-how explains their success at performing a surgery. And an architect’s know-how explains their success at designing houses that stand up. We value know-how because of its special explanatory link to success. But in virtue (...)
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  • La création d’un nouvel espace social: Internet et la documentalité / Internet comme documentalité.Isabelle Pariente-Butterlin - 2014 - Rivista di Estetica 57:87-99.
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  • The Omissions Account of the Knobe Effect and the Asymmetry Challenge.Katarzyna Paprzycka - 2015 - Mind and Language 30 (5):550-571.
    The characteristic asymmetry in intentionality attributions that is known as the Knobe effect can be explained by conjoining an orthodox theory of intentional action with a normative account of intentional omission. On the latter view: omissions presuppose some normative context; there are good reasons why the intentionality of omissions requires agents' knowledge rather than intention. The asymmetry in intentionality attributions in Knobe's cases can be seen to be derivative from an asymmetry in intentional omissions. The omissions account further explains the (...)
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  • Knowledge of Consequences: An Explanation of the Epistemic Side-Effect Effect.Katarzyna Paprzycka-Hausman - 2018 - Synthese 197 (12):5457-5490.
    The Knobe effect :190–194, 2003a) consists in our tendency to attribute intentionality to bringing about a side effect when it is morally bad but not when it is morally good. Beebe and Buckwalter have demonstrated that there is an epistemic side-effect effect : people are more inclined to attribute knowledge when the side effect is bad in Knobe-type cases. ESEE is quite robust. In this paper, I present a new explanation of ESEE. I argue that when people attribute knowledge in (...)
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  • A Thirder and an Everettian: A Reply to Lewis's 'Quantum Sleeping Beauty'.David Papineau & Víctor Durà-Vilà - 2009 - Analysis 69 (1):78-86.
    Since the publication of Elga's seminal paper in 2000, the Sleeping Beauty paradox has been the source of much discussion, particularly in this journal. Over the past few decades the Everettian interpretation of quantum mechanics 1 has also been much debated. There is an interesting connection between the way these two topics raise issues about subjective probability assignments.This connection is often alluded to, but as far as we know Peter J. Lewis's ‘Quantum Sleeping Beauty’ is the first attempt to examine (...)
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  • Substance Causation.Michele Paolini Paoletti - 2018 - Philosophia:1-22.
    I defend the thesis that, if there are substances, substance causation (i.e., causation by substances) is the only sort of causation in the universe – or the only fundamental sort. Subsequently, I develop an account of substance causation that is partly grounded on a peculiar interpretation of absolute change (i.e., of entities' coming and ceasing to be) and qualitative change, on some ontological assumptions about modes (i.e., individual properties that ontologically depend on their bearers) and powers. Finally, I reply to (...)
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  • Goetz on the Noncausal Libertarian View of Free Will.David Palmer - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):99-107.
    According to the libertarian view of free will, people sometimes act freely, but this freedom is incompatible with causal determinism. Goetz has developed an important and unusual libertarian view of free will. Rather than simply arguing that a person's free actions cannot be causally determined, Goetz argues that they cannot be caused at all. According to Goetz, in order for a person to act freely, her actions must be uncaused.1 My aim in this essay is to evaluate Goetz's “noncausal” libertarian (...)
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  • La dynamique des intentions.Élisabeth Pacherie - 2003 - Dialogue 42 (3):447-.
    I argue that in order to solve the main difficulties confronted by the classical versions of the causal theory of action, it is necessary no just to make room for intentions, considered as irreducible to complexes of beliefs and desires, but also to distinguish among several types of intentions. I present a three-tiered theory of intentions that distinguishes among future-directed intentions, present-directed intentions and motor intentions. I characterize each kind of intention in terms of its functions, its type of content, (...)
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  • Action Explanation and its Presuppositions.Lilian O’Brien - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (1):123-146.
    In debates about rationalizing action explanation causalists assume that the psychological states that explain an intentional action have both causal and rational features. I scrutinize the presuppositions of those who seek and offer rationalizing action explanations. This scrutiny shows, I argue, that where rational features play an explanatory role in these contexts, causal features play only a presuppositional role. But causal features would have to play an explanatory role if rationalizing action explanation were a species of causal explanation. Consequently, we (...)
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  • Free Will is Not a Testable Hypothesis.Robert Northcott - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (3):617-631.
    Much recent work in neuroscience aims to shed light on whether we have free will. Can it? Can any science? To answer, we need to disentangle different notions of free will, and clarify what we mean by ‘empirical’ and ‘testable’. That done, my main conclusion is, duly interpreted: that free will is not a testable hypothesis. In particular, it is neither verifiable nor falsifiable by empirical evidence. The arguments for this are not a priori but rather are based on a (...)
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  • The Folk Psychology of Free Will: Fits and Starts.Shaun Nichols - 2004 - Mind and Language 19 (5):473-502.
    According to agent-causal accounts of free will, agents have the capacity to cause actions, and for a given action, an agent could have done otherwise. This paper uses existing results and presents experimental evidence to argue that young children deploy a notion of agent-causation. If young children do have such a notion, however, it remains quite unclear how they acquire it. Several possible acquisition stories are canvassed, including the possibility that the notion of agent-causation develops from a prior notion of (...)
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  • Skill, Luck, Control, and Intentional Action.Thomas Nadelhoffer - 2005 - Philosophical Psychology 18 (3):341 – 352.
    On the surface, it seems intuitively plausible that if an agent luckily manages to perform a desired action (e.g., rolling a six with a fair die or winning the lottery), the performance of which is not the result of any relevant skill on her part, we should not say that she performed the action intentionally. This intuition suggests that our concept of intentional action is sensitive to considerations of skill, luck, and causal control. Indeed, some philosophers have claimed that in (...)
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  • A Cognitive Account of Agentive Awareness.Myrto Mylopoulos - 2017 - Mind and Language 32 (5):545-563.
    Agentive awareness is one's awareness of oneself as presently acting. Dominant accounts in cognitive science consider agentive awareness to be grounded in the states and processes underlying sensorimotor control. In this paper, I raise concerns for this approach and develop an alternative. Broadly, in the approach I defend, one is agentively aware in the virtue of intending to act. I further argue that agentive awareness is not constituted by intentions themselves but rather first-personal thoughts that are formed on the basis (...)
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  • The Problem of Luck and the Contradictory Nature of Moral Responsibility in the Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.Aleksandr S. Mishura - 2019 - Russian Journal of Philosophical Sciences 62 (10):102-120.
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