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And insofar as they focus on intention, they generally set aside questions about the relation between human agency and the agency of other kinds of thing. The contemporary literature is radically divided over the place of action in the natural causal world. This division is associated with a deep disagreement over the nature of causation.

FIL2207 – Philosophy of Action

On this view, an action is a bodily movement that is caused by the desires and beliefs that rationalize it. The desire, the belief and the bodily movement they cause are all taken to be inherently passive states or events, but the bodily movement is taken to count as an action in virtue of the appropriate, rationalizing, attitudes figuring in its event-causal history. The main alternative view makes use of an Aristotelian model of causal processes, according to which agents are an ineliminable part of the causal order.

This view is associated with G.


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Anscombe, and is coming to be more widely accepted as renewed attention is paid to her book Intention. Its exponents hold that when the person makes their impact in the natural world, what they do is not detachable from their intentions in doing so. Exponents of the standard story suppose that the attitudes and the action are related as cause to independent effect, whereas exponents of the alternative view suppose that a basically different species of causal dependence an internal one is in play. In each case there is disagreement whether an account of action can be built up out of intrinsically passive elements.

Action theorists have tended to abstract from questions in ethics.

Action theory (philosophy) - Wikipedia

How far Aristotelian and Kantian ideas about agency can be developed independently from the ethical frameworks in which they were originally set remains a matter of dispute. But the concerns of legal and moral philosophy certainly require a richer conception of the phenomena of agency than the action-theoretic account on its own provides. Back to top.

Gideon Yaffe

Loading content We were unable to load the content. I especially like the fact that the essays are by young philosophers whose ideas will shape discussion for years to come. JavaScript is currently disabled, this site works much better if you enable JavaScript in your browser.


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    Intention in Action with John McDowell

    Buy Softcover. FAQ Policy. About this book A collection of original, state-of-the-art essays by some of the best young philosophers working on the myriad problems of action and agency.

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