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  1. Risk Aversion and the Long Run.Johanna Thoma - 2018 - Ethics 129 (2):230-253.
    This article argues that Lara Buchak’s risk-weighted expected utility theory fails to offer a true alternative to expected utility theory. Under commonly held assumptions about dynamic choice and the framing of decision problems, rational agents are guided by their attitudes to temporally extended courses of action. If so, REU theory makes approximately the same recommendations as expected utility theory. Being more permissive about dynamic choice or framing, however, undermines the theory’s claim to capturing a steady choice disposition in the face (...)
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  2. Action Explanation and its Presuppositions.Lilian O’Brien - 2018 - 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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  3. Effort and the Standard Story of Action.Michael Brent - 2012 - Philosophical Writings 40:19 - 27.
    In this paper, I present an alternative account of action that improves upon what has come to be known as the standard story. The standard story depicts actions as events that are caused by and made intelligible through the appropriate combinations of the agent’s beliefs, desires, decisions, intentions and other motivational factors. I argue that the standard story is problematic because it depicts the relation between the agent and their bodily actions as causally mediated by their motivational factors. On the (...)
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  4. When Do Circumstances Excuse? Moral Prejudices and Beliefs About the True Self Drive Preferences for Agency-Minimizing Explanations.Simon Cullen - 2018 - Cognition 180:165-181.
    When explaining human actions, people usually focus on a small subset of potential causes. What leads us to prefer certain explanations for valenced actions over others? The present studies indicate that our moral attitudes often predict our explanatory preferences far better than our beliefs about how causally sensitive actions are to features of the actor's environment. Study 1 found that high-prejudice participants were much more likely to endorse non-agential explanations of an erotic same-sex encounter, such as that one of the (...)
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  5. Acting and Believing Under the Guise of Normative Reasons.Keshav Singh - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    In this paper, I defend an account of the reasons for which we act, believe, and so on for any Ф such that there can be reasons for which we Ф. Such reasons are standardly called motivating reasons. I argue that three dominant views of motivating reasons all fail to capture the ordinary concept of a motivating reason. I show this by drawing out three constraints on what motivating reasons must be, and demonstrating how each view fails to satisfy at (...)
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  6. Evaluative Beliefs First.Ben Bramble - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 8.
    Many philosophers think that it is only because we happen to want or care about things that we think some things of value. We start off caring about things, and then project these desires onto the external world. In this chapter, I make a preliminary case for the opposite view, that it is our evaluative thinking that is prior or comes first. On this view, it is only because we think some things of value that we care about or want (...)
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  7. Do We Reflect While Performing Skillful Actions? Automaticity, Control, and the Perils of Distraction.Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2017 - Philosophical Psychology 30 (7):896-924.
    From our everyday commuting to the gold medalist’s world-class performance, skillful actions are characterized by fine-grained, online agentive control. What is the proper explanation of such control? There are two traditional candidates: intellectualism explains skillful agentive control by reference to the agent’s propositional mental states; anti-intellectualism holds that propositional mental states or reflective processes are unnecessary since skillful action is fully accounted for by automatic coping processes. I examine the evidence for three psychological phenomena recently held to support anti-intellectualism and (...)
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  8. Motivating Reason to Slow the Factive Turn in Epistemology.J. Drake - forthcoming - In Veli Mitova (ed.), The Factive Turn in Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 1-22.
    In this paper I give a novel argument for the view that epistemic normative reasons (or evidence) need not be facts. I first argue that the nature of normative reasons is uniform, such that our positions about the factivity of reasons should agree across normative realms –– whether epistemic, moral, practical, or otherwise. With that in mind, I proceed in a somewhat indirect way. I argue that if practical motivating reasons are not factive, then practical normative reasons are not factive. (...)
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  9. Explaining Explanation.David-Hillel RUBEN - 1990 - Routledge.
    This book introduces readers to the topic of explanation. The insights of Plato, Aristotle, J.S. Mill and Carl Hempel are examined, and are used to argue against the view that explanation is merely a problem for the philosophy of science. Having established its importance for understanding knowledge in general, the book concludes with a bold and original explanation of explanation.
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  10. Social Norms and Unthinkable Options.Ulf Hlobil - 2016 - Synthese 193 (8):2519–2537.
    We sometimes violate social norms in order to express our views and to trigger public debates. Many extant accounts of social norms don’t give us any insight into this phenomenon. Drawing on Cristina Bicchieri’s work, I am putting forward an empirical hypothesis that helps us to understand such norm violations. The hypothesis says, roughly, that we often adhere to norms because we are systematically blind to norm-violating options. I argue that this hypothesis is independently plausible and has interesting consequences. It (...)
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  11. Inescapability and the Analysis of Agency.Philip Clark - 2014 - Abstracta 8 (S7):3-15.
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  12. Narrating Truths Worth Living: Addiction Narratives.Doug McConnell & Anke Snoek - 2012 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 3 (4):77-78.
    Self-narrative is often, perhaps primarily, a tool of self- constitution, not of truth representation. We explore this theme with reference to our own recent qualitative interviews of substance-dependent agents. Narrative self- constitution, the process of realizing a valued narrative projection of oneself, depends on one’s narrative tracking truth to a certain extent. Therefore, insofar as narratives are successfully realized, they have a claim to being true, although a certain amount of self-deception typically comes along for the ride. We suggest that, (...)
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  13. Normativity in Action: How to Explain the Knobe Effect and its Relatives.Frank Hindriks - 2014 - Mind and Language 29 (1):51-72.
    Intuitions about intentional action have turned out to be sensitive to normative factors: most people say that an indifferent agent brings about an effect of her action intentionally when it is harmful, but unintentionally when it is beneficial. Joshua Knobe explains this asymmetry, which is known as ‘the Knobe effect’, in terms of the moral valence of the effect, arguing that this explanation generalizes to other asymmetries concerning notions as diverse as deciding and being free. I present an alternative explanation (...)
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  14. Social Rules and the Social Background.Michael Schmitz - 2013 - In Michael Schmitz, Beatrice Kobow & Hans Bernhard Schmid (eds.), The Background of Social Reality. Springer. pp. 107--125.
    How can people function appropriately and respond normatively in social contexts even if they are not aware of rules governing these contexts? John Searle has rightly criticized a popular way out of this problem by simply asserting that they follow them unconsciously. His alternative explanation is based on his notion of a preintentional, nonrepresentational background. In this paper I criticize this explanation and the underlying account of the background and suggest an alternative explanation of the normativity of elementary social practices (...)
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  15. What Do Deviant Causal Chains Deviate From?Geert Keil - 2007 - In Christoph Lumer & Sandro Nannini (eds.), Intention, Deliberation and Autonomy. Ashgate. pp. 69-90.
    The problem of deviant causal chains is endemic to any theory of action that makes definitional or explanatory use of a causal connection between an agent’s beliefs and pro-attitudes and his bodily movements. Other causal theories of intentional phenomena are similarly plagued. The aim of this chapter is twofold. First, to defend Davidson’s defeatism. In his treatment of deviant causal chains, Davidson makes use of the clause “in the right way” to rule out causal waywardness, but he regards any attempt (...)
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  16. Jaspers on Drives, Wants and Volitions.Ulrich Diehl - 2012 - Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Karl-Jaspers-Gesellschaft 25:101-125.
    In § 6 of his General Psychopathology (1st edition 1913) Jaspers distinguished between drives, wants and volitions as three different and irreducible kinds of motivational phenomena which are involved in human decision making and which may lead to successful actions. He has characterized the qualitative differences between volitions in comparison with basic vital drives and emotional wants such as being (a.) intentional, (b.) content-specific and (b.) directed towards concrete objects and actions as goals. Furthermore, Jaspers has presented and discussed three (...)
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  17. Reasons for Action and Practical Reasoning.Maria Alvarez - 2010 - Ratio 23 (4):355-373.
    This paper seeks a better understanding of the elements of practical reasoning: premises and conclusion. It argues that the premises of practical reasoning do not normally include statements such as ‘I want to ϕ’; that the reasoning in practical reasoning is the same as in theoretical reasoning and that what makes it practical is, first, that the point of the relevant reasoning is given by the goal that the reasoner seeks to realize by means of that reasoning and the subsequent (...)
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  18. Two Ways to Understand Causality in Agency.Rowland Stout - 2007 - In A. Leist (ed.), Action in Context.
    An influential philosophical conception of our mind’s place in the world is as a site for the states and events that causally mediate the world we perceive and the world we affect. According to this conception, states and events in the world cause mental states and events in us through the process of perception. These mental states and events then go on to produce new states and events in the world through the process of action. Our role is as hosts (...)
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  19. Action.Luca Ferrero - 2009 - In John Shand (ed.), Central Issues of Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 137-151.
    An introductory survey of the contemporary philosophy of action.
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  20. Interpreting Anscombe’s Intention §32FF.Anne Newstead - 2009 - Journal of Philosophical Research 34:157-176.
    G. E. M. Anscombe’s view that agents know what they are doing “without observation” has been met with skepticism and the charge of confusion and falsehood. Simultaneously, some commentators think that Anscombe has captured an important truth about the first-personal character of an agent’s awareness of her actions. This paper attempts an explanation and vindication of Anscombe’s view. The key to the vindication lies in focusing on the role of practical knowledge in an agent’s knowledge of her actions. Few commentators, (...)
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Explanation of Action, Misc
  1. Causal Modeling and the Efficacy of Action.Holly Andersen - forthcoming - In Michael Brent (ed.), Mental Action and the Conscious Mind. Routledge.
    This paper brings together Thompson's naive action explanation with interventionist modeling of causal structure to show how they work together to produce causal models that go beyond current modeling capabilities, when applied to specifically selected systems. By deploying well-justified assumptions about rationalization, we can strengthen existing causal modeling techniques' inferential power in cases where we take ourselves to be modeling causal systems that also involve actions. The internal connection between means and end exhibited in naive action explanation has a modal (...)
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  2. Review of Susanne Mantel's 'Determined by Reasons'. [REVIEW]Joe Cunningham - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.
    The primary focus of Susanne Mantel’s excellent 'Determined by Reasons' is to develop a distinctive abilities-based account of acting in response to normative reasons, one which is clearly modelled on extant ability-theoretic accounts of knowledge. This review sketches Mantel’s account and raises a worry: that the account fails to characterise the sort of abilities constitutively involved in responding to reasons because it allows that agents can act for the reason that p even if their belief that p is not accessible (...)
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  3. Intelligibility and the Guise of the Good.Paul Boswell - 2018 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 13 (1):1-31.
    According to the Guise of the Good, an agent only does for a reason what she sees as good. One of the main motivations for the view is its apparent ability to explain why action for a reason must be intelligible to its agent, for on this view, an action is intelligible just in case it seems good. This motivation has come under criticism in recent years. Most notably, Kieran Setiya has argued that merely seeing one’s action as good does (...)
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  4. Anscombe on Intentions and Commands.Graham Hubbs - 2016 - Klesis 35:90-107.
    The title of this essay describes its topic. I open by discussing the two-knowledges/one-object worry that Anscombe introduces through her famous example of the water-pumper. This sets the context for my main topic, viz., Anscombe’s remarks in _Intention_ on the similarities and differences between intentions and commands. These remarks play a key role in her argument’s shift from practical knowledge to the form of practical reasoning and in its subsequent shift back to practical knowledge. The remarks should be seen as (...)
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  5. Deflationary Pluralism About Motivating Reasons.Daniel Fogal - 2018 - In Veli Mitova (ed.), The Factive Turn in Epistemology. Cambridge University Press.
    This paper takes a closer look at ordinary thought and talk about motivating reasons, in an effort to better understand how it works. This is an important first step in understanding whether—and if so, how—such thought and talk should inform or constrain our substantive theorizing. One of the upshots is that ordinary judgments about motivating reasons are at best a partial and defeasible guide to what really matters, and that so-called factualists, propositionalists, and statists are all partly right, as well (...)
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  6. Internalism, Factivity, and Sufficient Reason.Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - forthcoming - In Veli Mitova (ed.), The Factive Turn in Epistemology. Cambridge University Press.
    How radical is the idea that reasons are factive? Some philosophers consider it a dramatic departure from orthodoxy, with surprising implications about the bearing of the external world on what credences it’s reasonable to have, what beliefs are epistemically appropriate, and what actions are rational. I deny these implications. In the cases where external matters imply differences in factive states, there will inevitably be important weaker factive states in common. For example, someone who knows it is raining has many factive (...)
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  7. La Théorie de la Décision Et la Psychologie du Sens Commun.Philippe Mongin - 2011 - Social Science Information 50 (3-4):351-374.
    Taking the philosophical standpoint, this article compares the mathematical theory of individual decision-making with the folk psychology conception of action, desire and belief. It narrows down its topic by carrying the comparison vis-à-vis Savage's system and its technical concept of subjective probability, which is referred to the basic model of betting as in Ramsey. The argument is organized around three philosophical theses: (i) decision theory is nothing but folk psychology stated in formal language (Lewis), (ii) the former substantially improves on (...)
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  8. A Dual Aspect Theory of Shared Intention.Facundo M. Alonso - 2016 - Journal of Social Ontology 2 (2):271–302.
    In this article I propose an original view of the nature of shared intention. In contrast to psychological views (Bratman, Searle, Tuomela) and normative views (Gilbert), I argue that both functional roles played by attitudes of individual participants and interpersonal obligations are factors of central and independent significance for explaining what shared intention is. It is widely agreed that shared intention (I) normally motivates participants to act, and (II) normally creates obligations between them. I argue that the view I propose (...)
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  9. How Do Narratives and Brains Mutually Influence Each Other? Taking Both the ‘Neuroscientific Turn’ and the ‘Narrative Turn’ in Explaining Bio-Political Orders.Machiel Keestra - manuscript
    Introduction: the neuroscientific turn in political science The observation that brains and political orders are interdependent is almost trivial. Obviously, political orders require brain processes in order to emerge and to remain in place, as these processes enable action and cognition. Conversely, every since Aristotle coined man as “by nature a political animal” (Aristotle, Pol.: 1252a 3; cf. Eth. Nic.: 1097b 11), this also suggests that the political engagements of this animal has likely consequences for its natural development, including the (...)
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  10. Character, Will, and Agency.Roman Altshuler - 2016 - In Jonathan Webber & Alberto Masala (eds.), From Personality to Virtue: Essays on the Philosophy of Character. Oxford University Press. pp. 62-80.
    Character and the will are rarely discussed together. At most, philosophers working on the one mention the other in an eliminativist vein—if character is represented as something chosen, for example, it can be chalked up to the work of the will; if the will consists merely of a certain arrangement of mental states, it can be seen as little more than a manifestation of character. This mutual neglect appears perfectly justified. If both character and will are determinants of action, to (...)
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  11. I Believe I Can Φ.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2015 - In Thomas Brochhagen, Floris Roelofsen & Nadine Theiler (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Amsterdam Colloquium. pp. 256-265.
    We propose a new analysis of ability modals. After briefly criticizing extant approaches, we turn our attention to the venerable but vexed conditional analysis of ability ascriptions. We give an account that builds on the conditional analysis, but avoids its weaknesses by incorporating a layer of quantification over a contextually supplied set of actions.
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  12. Kathleen Lennon, Explaining Human Action. [REVIEW]Karl Pfeifer - 1991 - Philosophy in Review 11 (4):263-265.
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  13. Carl Ginet, On Action. [REVIEW]Karl Pfeifer - 1992 - Philosophy in Review 12:196-199.
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  14. Being Subject to the Rule to Do What the Rules Tell You to Do.Rowland Stout - 2010 - In Bernhard Weiss & Jeremy Wanderer (eds.), Reading Brandom. Routledge. pp. 145-156.
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  15. Sculpting the Space of Actions. Explaining Human Action by Integrating Intentions and Mechanisms.Machiel Keestra - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Amsterdam
    How can we explain the intentional nature of an expert’s actions, performed without immediate and conscious control, relying instead on automatic cognitive processes? How can we account for the differences and similarities with a novice’s performance of the same actions? Can a naturalist explanation of intentional expert action be in line with a philosophical concept of intentional action? Answering these and related questions in a positive sense, this dissertation develops a three-step argument. Part I considers different methods of explanations in (...)
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  16. Turing Test, Chinese Room Argument, Symbol Grounding Problem. Meanings in Artificial Agents (2013).Christophe Menant - 2013 - In The American Philosophical Associat ion (ed.), APA Newsletter Philosophy and Computers Fall 2013 ISSN 2155-9708. The American Philosophical Associat ion.
    The Turing Test (TT), the Chinese Room Argument (CRA), and the Symbol Grounding Problem (SGP) are about the question “can machines think?” We propose to look at these approaches to Artificial Intelligence (AI) by showing that they all address the possibility for Artificial Agents (AAs) to generate meaningful information (meanings) as we humans do. The initial question about thinking machines is then reformulated into “can AAs generate meanings like humans do?” We correspondingly present the TT, the CRA and the SGP (...)
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  17. Embarking on a Crime.Sarah K. Paul - 2014 - In Enrique Villanueva V. (ed.), Law and the Philosophy of Action. Rodopi. pp. 101-24.
    When we define something as a crime, we generally thereby criminalize the attempt to commit that crime. However, it is a vexing puzzle to specify what must be the case in order for a criminal attempt to have occurred, given that the results element of the crime fails to come about. I argue that the philosophy of action can assist the criminal law in clarifying what kinds of events are properly categorized as criminal attempts. A natural thought is that this (...)
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  18. A Puzzle About Knowledge in Action.Iskra Fileva - 2013 - Logique Et Analyse 56 (223):287-301.
    I question the widespread assumption that when we act for reasons we know what our reasons are. I argue that an agent may act in ignorance, or partial ignorance, regarding his or her reasons, and an action involving ignorance of this sort may still qualify as done for reasons. I conclude from here that we need to develop a suitable new model of action for reasons, and I proceed to offer such a model. Briefly, I argue that an action qualifies (...)
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  19. Chrysippus' Theory of Causes.Susanne Bobzien - 1999 - In Katerina Ierodiakonou (ed.), Topics in Stoic Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    ABSTRACT: A systematic reconstruction of Chrysippus’ theory of causes, grounded on the Stoic tenets that causes are bodies, that they are relative, and that all causation can ultimately be traced back to the one ‘active principle’ which pervades all things. I argue that Chrysippus neither developed a finished taxonomy of causes, nor intended to do so, and that he did not have a set of technical terms for mutually exclusive classes of causes. Rather, the various adjectives which he used for (...)
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  20. Review of "The Things We Do and Why We Do Them", by Constantine Sandis, 2012. [REVIEW]Markus E. Schlosser - 2013 - Philosophy in Review 33 (1):74-76.
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  21. De Re and De Dicto Explanation of Action.Sean Crawford - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (4):783-798.
    This paper argues for an account of the relation between thought ascription and the explanation of action according to which de re ascriptions and de dicto ascriptions of thought each form the basis for two different kinds of action explanations, nonrationalizing and rationalizing ones. The claim that de dicto ascriptions explain action is familiar and virtually beyond dispute; the claim that that de re ascriptions are explanatory of action, however, is not at all familiar and indeed has mostly been denied (...)
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  22. Review: Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez. [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):873-875.
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  23. Dynamic Models in Imperative Logic (Imperatives in Action: Changing Minds and Norms).Berislav Žarnić - 2011 - In Anna Brozek, Jacek Jadacki & Berislav Žarnić (eds.), Theory of Imperatives from Different Points of View (2). Wydawnictwo Naukowe Semper.
    The theory of imperatives is philosophically relevant since in building it — some of the long standing problems need to be addressed, and presumably some new ones are waiting to be discovered. The relevance of the theory of imperatives for philosophical research is remarkable, but usually recognized only within the field of practical philosophy. Nevertheless, the emphasis can be put on problems of theoretical philosophy. Proper understanding of imperatives is likely to raise doubts about some of our deeply entrenched and (...)
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  24. Understanding Human Action: Integrating Meanings, Mechanisms, Causes, and Contexts.Machiel Keestra - 2011 - In Repko Allen, Szostak Rick & Newell William (eds.), Interdisciplinary Research: Case Studies of Integrative Understandings of Complex Problems. Sage Publications. pp. 201-235.
    Humans are capable of understanding an incredible variety of actions performed by other humans. Even though these range from primary biological actions, like eating and fleeing, to acts in parliament or in poetry, humans generally can make sense of each other’s actions. Understanding other people’s actions is called action understanding, and it can transcend differences in race, gender, culture, age, and social and historical circumstances. Action understanding is the cognitive ability to make sense of another person’s action by integrating perceptual (...)
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  25. Agents, Actions and Reasons.Maria Alvarez - 2005 - Philosophical Books 46 (1):45-58.
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  26. Knowledge by Intention? On the Possibility of Agent's Knowledge.Anne Newstead - 2006 - In Stephen Hetherington (ed.), Aspects of Knowing. Elsevier Science. pp. 183.
    A fallibilist theory of knowledge is employed to make sense of the idea that agents know what they are doing 'without observation' (as on Anscombe's theory of practical knowledge).
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  27. Reason and the Structure of Davidson's "Desire-Belief Model".Henk Bij de Weg - manuscript
    of “Reason and the structure of Davidson’s ‘Desire-Belief-Model’ ” by Henk bij de Weg In the present discussion in the analytic theory of action, broadly two models for the explanation or justification of actions can be distinguished: the internalist and the externalist model. Against this background, I discuss Davidson’s version of the internalist Desire-Belief Model . First, I show that what Davidson calls “pro attitude” has two distinct meanings. An implication of this is that Davidson’s DBM actually comprises two different (...)
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  28. Reasons for Action.Pamela Hieronymi - 2011 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):407-427.
    Donald Davidson opens ‘Actions, Reasons, and Causes’ by asking, ‘What is the relation between a reason and an action when the reason explains the action by giving the agent's reason for doing what he did?’ His answer has generated some confusion about reasons for action and made for some difficulty in understanding the place for the agent's own reasons for acting, in the explanation of an action. I offer here a different account of the explanation of action, one that, though (...)
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  29. The Will as Reason.Pamela Hieronymi - 2009 - Philosophical Perspectives 23 (1):201-220.
    I here defend an account of the will as practical reason —or, using Kant's phrase, as " reason in its practical employment"—as against a view of the will as a capacity for choice, in addition to reason, by which we execute practical judgments in action. Certain commonplaces show distance between judgment and action and thus seem to reveal the need for a capacity, in addition to reason, by which we execute judgment in action. However, another ordinary fact pushes in the (...)
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  30. Reply to Jean Decety: Perceiving Actions and Understanding Agency.Christoph Hoerl - 2002 - In Jerome Dokic & Joelle Proust (eds.), Simulation and Knowledge of Action. John Benjamins. pp. 45--73.
    Decety presents evidence for the claim that neural mechanisms involved in the generation of actions are also recruited in the observation and mental simulation of actions. This paper explores the relationship between such neuropsychological findings and our common-sense understanding of what it is for a person to imitate or imagine performing an action they have observed. A central question is whether imitation and imagination necessarily involve the ability to distinguish between one's own actions and those of others. It is argued (...)
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