Causing Human Actions
New Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The MIT Press
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This volume brings together essays by some of the leading figures working in action theory today. What unifies all of the essays is that they either directly engage in debates over some aspect of the causal theory of action...
1 The Causal Theory of Action: Origins and Issues
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Philosophy of action is often construed either broadly as including all of the problems in philosophy dealing with human action and agency or more narrowly as concerned with merely the cluster of issues that deal...
2 Renewed Questions about the Causal Theory of Action
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The causal theory of action (CTA) has long been the standard account of human action in both philosophy and jurisprudence. The CTA essentially asserts that human actions are particulars of a certain kind, namely, events...
3 The Standard Story of Action: An Exchange (1)
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Suppose an agent acts in some way. What makes it the case that he acted, as distinct from his having been involved in some mere happening or other? What makes him an agent, rather than a patient?...
4 The Standard Story of Action: An Exchange (2)
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In this second part of this exchange, I respond to Michael Smith by saying why I think that no one should endorse the standard story of action in any of its versions. I hope to show that there is an alternative to it...
5 Skepticism about Natural Agency and the Causal Theory of Action
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Action theorists often proceed with little or no motivational prolegomena, as if the question of what it is for something to count as an action is just there, most strikingly posed, perhaps, in Wittgenstein's terms: “ What is left...
6 Agential Systems, Causal Deviance, and Reliability
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According to the causal theory of action (CTA) an action is an event caused by a mental state or event that rationalizes its execution. Actions are typically exemplified by bodily movements, and their internal causes...
7 What Are You Causing in Acting?
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My target for attack in this essay is the fairly widespread view in the philosophy of action that what an agent is doing in acting in a certain kind of way is causing an event of some corresponding type. On this view...
8 Omissions and Causalism
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Omissions are puzzling — so puzzling that people tend to say puzzling things about them and give up otherwise attractive philosophical theories in order to accommodate them. 1 In this essay I suggest that omissions make...
9 Intentional Omissions
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Often when one omits to do a certain thing, one’s omission is due to one’s simply not having considered, or one’s having forgotten, to do that thing. When this is so, one does not intentionally omit to do that thing. But...
10 Comments on Clarke’s “Intentional Omissions”
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Clarke argues for two main claims in his essay. The first is: (i) In order for an agent’s omitting to A to be intentional, some intention with the appropriate content (e.g., the intention not to A or a related...
11 Reply to Sartorio
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After drinking with his buddies one evening, Tom was tired. While they vowed to carry on all night — and did — he went home and slept. Tom intentionally omitted to join them in toasting the sunrise. Was he engaged...
12 Causal and Deliberative Strength of Reasons for Action
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An agent's having of a reason for an action (hereafter, simply “ a reason ” ) is often said to be among the causes or causal conditions of the action for which it is a reason (in this wide sense, “ action ” includes many cases of...
13 Teleological Explanations of Actions
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Teleological explanations of human actions are explanations in terms of aims, goals, or purposes of human agents. According to one familiar causal approach to analyzing human action and to explaining instances thereof...
14 Teleology and Causal Understanding in Children’s Theory of Mind
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In “The Emergence of Thought,” Donald Davidson argues that while we have no difficulty in describing, on the one hand, mindless nature and, on the other, mature adult psychology, “what we lack is a way of describing...
15 Action Theory Meets Embodied Cognition
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In cognitive science, embodied cognition is sweeping the planet.1 Interest in this perspective on cognition is becoming wildly popular. Some of the tenets of embodied approaches to cognition are compatible with the...
16 Intentions as Complex Dynamical Attractors
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What is the difference between a wink and a blink? Intuitively, we would say that a wink is intentional and a blink is not. From a philosophical point of view, answering the question, what is an intention and how does...
17 The Causal Theory of Action and the Still Puzzling Knobe Effect
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It is a common assumption among philosophers that whether or not something counts as an intentional action depends on what was going on “in the head” of the agent at the time it was performed. On this view...
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2010