An essay on the causal theory of action

So here is a particular theory about exactly which events caused by certain mental states are primitive actions: primitive actions are body movements caused by mental states.

action theory

I cannot omit to pick you up from the airport if my body moves in the many ways that would constitute my picking you up from the airport. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. Intuitively, this last attempt to pitch the ball seems to be clearly an intentional action to us, though it contradicts Peacocke's idea that the function relating cause to effect is "one-to-one".

action theory

Influenced by Davidson, many philosophers reject more than just reason-to-action laws. Since Michael is timid and will not initiate a greeting, we can see that in the closest world in which Martha happens not to greet Michael, Michael will not greet Martha.

Paul Grice [] favored a closely related view in which intention consists in the agent's willing that certain results ensue, combined with the belief that they will ensue as a consequence of the particular willing in question.

Philosophy of action

But the coyness depends on the movements, not vice versa. Acts, events, and things. It is possible to have simpler counterexamples in which the agent fails to actively participate in the production of action without lapsing into deviant causation. Davidson answers the question in two steps. Or she could espouse a general skepticism of modal arguments to begin with, as Davidson himself was purported to. To show this, Velleman a, pp. They are colocated, distinct objects.

Neither will I attempt to further defend the claim that constitution is distinct from identity. Surely, [she] can believe that the decision, though genuinely motivated by [her] desires, was thereby induced in [her] but not formed by [her]; and [she] can believe that it was genuinely executed in [her] behavior but executed, again, without [her] help.

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This gets around the above arguments to the Identity Thesis. Briefly, it transpires like this. I maintain that it is still plausible. The Explanation of Action For many years, the most intensely debated topic in the philosophy of action concerned the explanation of intentional actions in terms of the agent's reasons for acting. So it appears that the irrationality of having inconsistent intentions cannot be explained by appealing to run of the mill norms on desire and belief. His discussion is always rich, subtle, insightful, helpfully repetitive he often stops to remind us just what stage his inquiry has reached , well written technical without being overwhelming and with a minimum of non-English formulae , well informed his references to the literature, some of it very recent, are plentiful and apt , and fair-minded for a compatibilist, he is admirably sensitive to incompatibilist concerns. Given this ontology we can make the same point by saying that every act has an intention in it whose object is the result of the act, so that when we specify what an agent did intentionally we specify the result of his act, and when we specify what he did non-intentionally we specify the consequences of his act.

Again, desires do not appear to be subject to norms of non-reconsideration, and they do not seem to put pressure on us to form further desires about means.

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The Causal Theory of Action