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  1. Wanting and Willing.Eric Marcus - forthcoming - European Journal of Philosophy.
    How homogenous are the sources of human motivation? Textbook Humeans hold that every human action is motivated by desire, thus any heterogeneity derives from differing objects of desire. Textbook Kantians hold that although some human actions are motivated by desire, others are motivated by reason. One question in this vicinity concerns whether there are states such that to be in one is at once take the world to be a certain way and to be motivated to act: the state-question. My (...)
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  2. How Inference Isn’T Blind: Self-Conscious Inference and its Role in Doxastic Agency.David Jenkins - 2019 - Dissertation, King’s College London
    This thesis brings together two concerns. The first is the nature of inference—what it is to infer—where inference is understood as a distinctive kind of conscious and self-conscious occurrence. The second concern is the possibility of doxastic agency. To be capable of doxastic agency is to be such that one is capable of directly exercising agency over one’s beliefs. It is to be capable of exercising agency over one’s beliefs in a way which does not amount to mere self-manipulation. Subjects (...)
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  3. Out of Habit.Santiago Amaya - forthcoming - Synthese:1-25.
    This paper argues that habits, just like beliefs, can guide intentional action. To do this, a variety of real-life cases where a person acts habitually but contrary to her beliefs are discussed. The cases serve as dissociations showing that intentional agency is possible without doxastic guidance. The upshot is a model for thinking about the rationality of habitual action and the rationalizing role that habits can play in it. The model highlights the role that our history and institutions play in (...)
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  4. Perception, Cognition, Action.Bence Nanay - 2016 - Oxford Bibliographies Online.
    Summary of recent research on perception, action and what's in between, with the help of a recurring culinary metaphor.
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  5. Revaluing the Behaviorist Ghost In Enactivism and Embodied Cognition.Nikolai Alksnis & Jack Alan Reynolds - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Despite its short historical moment in the sun, behaviorism has become something akin to a theoria non grata, a position that dare not be explicitly endorsed. The reasons for this are complex, of course, and they include sociological factors which we cannot consider here, but to put it briefly: many have doubted the ambition to establish law-like relationships between mental states and behavior that dispense with any sort of mentalistic or intentional idiom, judging that explanations of intelligent behavior require reference (...)
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  6. Gilbert Ryle’s Adverbialism.Gabrielle Benette Jackson - 2020 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 28 (2):318-335.
    Gilbert Ryle famously wrote that practical knowledge (knowing how) is distinct from propositional knowledge (knowing that). This claim continues to have broad philosophical appeal, and yet there are many unsettled questions surrounding Ryle’s basic proposal. In this article, I return to his original work in order to perform some intellectual archeology. I offer an interpretation of Ryle’s concept of action that I call ‘adverbialism’. Actions are constituted by bodily behaviours performed in a certain mode, style or manner. I present various (...)
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  7. What is ‘Mental Action’?Yair Levy - 2019 - Philosophical Psychology 32 (6):971-993.
    There has been a resurgence of interest lately within philosophy of mind and action in the category of mental action. Against this background, the present paper aims to question the very possibility, or at least the theoretical significance, of teasing apart mental and bodily acts. After raising some doubts over the viability of various possible ways of drawing the mental act/bodily act distinction, the paper draws some lessons from debates over embodied cognition, which arguably further undermine the credibility of the (...)
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  8. Which Emotional Behaviors Are Actions?Jean Moritz Müller & Hong Yu Wong - forthcoming - In Andrea Scarantino (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Emotion Theory. New York City, New York, USA:
    There is a wide range of things we do out of emotion. For example, we smile with pleasure, our voices drop when we are sad, we recoil in shock or jump for joy, we apologize to others out of remorse. It is uncontroversial that some of these behaviors are actions. Clearly, apologizing is an action if anything is. Things seem less clear in the case of other emotional behaviors. Intuitively, the drop in a sad person’s voice is something that happens (...)
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  9. Agency, Qualia and Life: Connecting Mind and Body Biologically.David Longinotti - 2017 - In Vincent C. Müller (ed.), Philosophy and Theory of Artificial Intelligence 2017. Cham: Springer. pp. 43-56.
    Many believe that a suitably programmed computer could act for its own goals and experience feelings. I challenge this view and argue that agency, mental causation and qualia are all founded in the unique, homeostatic nature of living matter. The theory was formulated for coherence with the concept of an agent, neuroscientific data and laws of physics. By this method, I infer that a successful action is homeostatic for its agent and can be caused by a feeling - which does (...)
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  10. Unable to Do the Impossible.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):585-602.
    Jack Spencer has recently argued for the striking thesis that, possibly, an agent is able to do the impossible—that is, perform an action that is metaphysically impossible for that person to perform. Spencer bases his argument on (Simple G), a case in which it is impossible for an agent G to perform some action but, according to Spencer, G is still intuitively able to perform that action. I reply that we would have to give up at least four action-theoretical principles (...)
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  11. 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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  12. Agency and Embodiment: Groups, Human–Machine Interactions, and Virtual Realities.Johannes Himmelreich - 2018 - Ratio 31 (2):197-213.
    This paper develops a taxonomy of kinds of actions that can be seen in group agency, human–machine interactions, and virtual realities. These kinds of actions are special in that they are not embodied in the ordinary sense. I begin by analysing the notion of embodiment into three separate assumptions that together comprise what I call the Embodiment View. Although this view may find support in paradigmatic cases of agency, I suggest that each of its assumptions can be relaxed. With each (...)
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  13. Naturalism, Non-Factualism, and Normative Situated Behaviour.Manuel Heras-Escribano & Manuel de Pinedo-García - 2018 - South African Journal of Philosophy 37 (1):80-98.
    This paper argues that the normative character of our unreflective situated behaviour is not factual. We highlight a problematic assumption shared by the two most influential trends in contemporary philosophy of cognitive science, reductionism and enactivism. Our intentional, normative explanations are referential, descriptive or factual. Underneath this assumption lies the idea that only facts can make true or false our attributions of cognitive, mental and agential abilities. We will argue against this view by describing the main features and problems of (...)
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  14. Can Reason Establish the Goals of Action? Assessing Interpretations of Aristotle’s Theory of Agency.Juan Pablo Bermúdez - 2017 - Discusiones Filosóficas 18 (30):35-62.
    Scholarship on Aristotle’s theory of action has recently veered toward an intellectualist position, according to which reason is in charge of setting the goals of action. This position has recently been criticized by an anti-intellectualism revival, according to which character, and not reason, sets the goals of action. I argue that neither view can sufficiently account for the complexities of Aristotle’s theory, and suggest a middle way that combines the strengths of both while avoiding their pitfalls. The key problem for (...)
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  15. Basic Knowledge First.Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2017 - Episteme 14 (3):343-361.
    An infuential twenty-first century philosophical project posits a central role for knowledge: knowledge is more fundamental than epistemic states like belief and justification. So-called “knowledge first” theorists find support for this thought in identifying central theoretical roles for knowledge. I argue that a similar methodology supports a privileged role for more specific category of basic knowledge. Some of the roles that knowledge first theorists have posited for knowledge generally are better suited for basic knowledge.
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  16. Explaining Actions and Explaining Bodily Movements.Maria Alvares - 2013 - In G. D’Oro, A. Laitinen & C. Sandis (eds.), Reasons and Causes. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 141-159.
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  17. Cognitive Behavioural Systems.Esposito Anna, Esposito Antonietta M., Hoffmann Rüdiger, Müller Vincent C. & Vinciarelli Alessandro (eds.) - 2012 - Springer.
    This book constitutes refereed proceedings of the COST 2102 International Training School on Cognitive Behavioural Systems held in Dresden, Germany, in February 2011. The 39 revised full papers presented were carefully reviewed and selected from various submissions. The volume presents new and original research results in the field of human-machine interaction inspired by cognitive behavioural human-human interaction features. The themes covered are on cognitive and computational social information processing, emotional and social believable Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) systems, behavioural and contextual analysis (...)
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  18. Is Balancing Emblematic of Action? Two or Three Pointers From Reid and Peirce.David Vender - 2011 - Humana Mente 4 (15):251-270.
    Defining actions in contradistinction to mere happenings runs into the problem of specifying the role of the agent and separating what the agent does from what they exploit or suffer. Traditionally these problems have been approached by starting with a simple act, such as an incidental movement, and considering causality, or by seeking to elucidate the connection between the act and the agent's intentions or reasons. It is suggested here that a promising approach is to shift attention from 'simple' movements (...)
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  19. Addiction and Weakness of Will.Lubomira Radoilska - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Mental conflict not always amounts to weakness of will. Irresistible motives not always speak of addiction. This book proposes an integrated account of what singles out these phenomena: addiction and weakness of will are both forms of secondary akrasia. By integrating these two phenomena into a classical conception of akrasia as poor resolution of an unnecessary conflict – valuing without intending while intending without valuing – the book makes an original contribution to central issues in moral psychology and philosophy of (...)
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  20. The Diversity of Disjunctivism. [REVIEW]Fabian Dorsch - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (2):304-314.
    In this review article, I introduce a classification of metaphysical and epistemological forms of disjunctivism and critically discuss the essays on disjunctivism in the philosophy of perception, the philosophy of action and epistemology that are published in Fiona Macpherson and Adrian Haddock’s collection 'Disjunctivism: Perception, Action, Knowledge' (Oxford University Press, 2008).
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  21. Most Ways I Could Move: Bennett's Act/Omission Distinction and the Behaviour Space.Fiona Woollard - 2011 - Mind 120 (477):155-182.
    The distinction between action and omission is of interest in both theoretical and practical philosophy. We use this distinction daily in our descriptions of behaviour and appeal to it in moral judgements. However, the very nature of the act/omission distinction is as yet unclear. Jonathan Bennett’s account of the distinction in terms of positive and negative facts is one of the most promising attempts to give an analysis of the ontological distinction between action and omission. According to Bennett’s account, an (...)
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  22. Agents, Actions and Reasons.Maria Alvarez - 2005 - Philosophical Books 46 (1):45-58.
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  23. Sub-Intentional Actions and the Over-Mentalization of Agency.Helen Steward - 2009 - In Constantine Sandis (ed.), New Essays on the Explanation of Action. Palgrave-Macmillan.
    This paper argues, by attention to the category of sub-intentional agency, that many conceptions of the nature of agency are 'over-mentalised', in that they insist that an action proper must be produced by something like an intention or a reason or a desire. Sub-intentional actions provide counterexamples to such conceptions. Instead, it is argued, we should turn to the concept of a two-way power in order to home in on the essential characteristics of actions.
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  24. 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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  25. 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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  26. Kant's Intelligible Standpoint on Action.Adrian M. S. Piper - 2001 - In Hans-Ulrich Baumgarten & Carsten Held (eds.), Systematische Ethik mit Kant. Alber.
    This essay attempts to render intelligible (you will pardon the pun) Kant's peculiar claims about the intelligible at A 539/B 567 – A 541/B 569 in the first Critique, in which he asserts that (1) ... [t]his acting subject would now, in conformity with his intelligible character, stand under no temporal conditions, because time is only a condition of appearances, but not of things in themselves. In him no action would begin or cease. Consequently it would not be subjected to (...)
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  27. Tun Und Lassen – Überlegungen Zur Ontologie Menschlichen Handelns.Ralf Stoecker - 1998 - Erkenntnis 48 (2-3):395-413.
    The widely agreed view that actions are events faces the problem of how to describe the “branches” in so-called action trees, i.e. actions which are done by doing other actions. Moreover, the view is also inconsistent with the existence of two familiar species of agency: omitting something and letting things happen. In this article, an alternative conception of action is proposed which takes letting happen as the paradigm of agency. Agency should be construed as an explanatory relation between agents and (...)
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Causal Theory of Action
  1. Hubert Dreyfus on Practical and Embodied Intelligence.Kristina Gehrman & John Schwenkler - 2020 - In Carlotta Pavese & Ellen Fridland (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Skill and Expertise. Routledge. pp. 123-132.
    This chapter treats Hubert Dreyfus’ account of skilled coping as part of his wider project of demonstrating the sovereignty of practical intelligence over all other forms of intelligence. In contrast to the standard picture of human beings as essentially rational, individual agents, Dreyfus argued powerfully on phenomenological and empirical grounds that humans are fundamentally embedded, absorbed, and embodied. These commitments are present throughout Dreyfus’ philosophical writings, from his critique of Artificial Intelligence research in the 1970s and 1980s to his rejection (...)
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  2. Motor Imagery and Action Execution.Bence Nanay - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    What triggers the execution of actions? What happens in that moment when an action is triggered? What mental state is there at the moment of action-execution that was not there a second before? My aim is to highlight the importance of a thus far largely ignored kind of mental state in the discussion of these old and much-debated questions: motor imagery. While there have been a fair amount of research in psychology and neuroscience on motor imagery in the last 30 (...)
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  3. Acting on a Ground : Reasons, Rational Motivation, and Explanation.Magnus Frei - 2016 - Dissertation, Fribourg
    When someone does something for a reason, what are the reasons for which she does what she does? What is her ‘motivating reason’, as it is sometimes put? The simple answer is: it depends on what is meant by ‘motivating reason’. Non-Psychologists hold that motivating reasons are what the agent believes. I have shown that given that we understand ‘motivating reasons’ as what I term 'grounds', this is quite correct, as what we believe is what plays the role of a (...)
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  4. The Metaphysics of Action: Trying, Doing, Causing.David-Hillel Ruben - 2018 - London: Palgrave Macmillan.
    A discussion of three central ideas in action theory; trying to act, doing or acting, one's action causing further consequences.
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  5. Rational and Social Agency: The Philosophy of Michael Bratman, Edited by Manuel Vargas and Gideon Yaffe.Michael Brent - 2018 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 15 (3):371-374.
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  6. Agent Causation as a Solution to the Problem of Action.Michael Brent - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (5):656-673.
    My primary aim is to defend a nonreductive solution to the problem of action. I argue that when you are performing an overt bodily action, you are playing an irreducible causal role in bringing about, sustaining, and controlling the movements of your body, a causal role best understood as an instance of agent causation. Thus, the solution that I defend employs a notion of agent causation, though emphatically not in defence of an account of free will, as most theories of (...)
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  7. Wie kausal ist menschliches Handeln? Grenzen in der Naturalisierung menschlichen Handelns.Gasser Georg - 2011 - Zeitschrift Für Katholische Theologie 133 (3-4):361-381.
    This article argues that the causal theory of action cannot explain conscious human action adequately. Interpreting actions as bodily movements caused by (mental) states internal to the agent does not do justice to the particular role of the agent herself as ‘performing’ or ‘bringing about’ the action in the light of specific reasons. The only thing one can say about actions being distinct from other bodily movements such as automatic physiological processes or reflexes will employ again the concept of action (...)
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  8. Experts and Deviants: The Story of Agentive Control.Wayne Wu - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (2):101-26.
    This essay argues that current theories of action fail to explain agentive control because they have left out a psychological capacity central to control: attention. This makes it impossible to give a complete account of the mental antecedents that generate action. By investigating attention, and in particular the intention-attention nexus, we can characterize the functional role of intention in an illuminating way, explicate agentive control so that we have a uniform explanation of basic cases of causal deviance in action as (...)
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  9. Explaining Actions and Explaining Bodily Movements.Maria Alvares - 2013 - In G. D’Oro, A. Laitinen & C. Sandis (eds.), Reasons and Causes. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 141-159.
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  10. Making Something Happen. Where Causation and Agency Meet.Geert Keil - 2007 - In Francesca Castellani & Josef Quitterer (eds.), Agency and Causation in the Human Sciences. Mentis. pp. 19-35.
    1. Introduction: a look back at the reasons vs. causes debate. 2. The interventionist account of causation. 3. Four objections to interventionism. 4. The counterfactual analysis of event causation. 5. The role of free agency. 6. Causality in the human sciences. -- The reasons vs. causes debate reached its peak about 40 years ago. Hempel and Dray had debated the nature of historical explanation and the broader issue of whether explanations that cite an agent’s reasons are causal or not. Melden, (...)
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  11. Wie fängt (man) eine Handlung an?Geert Keil - 2014 - In Anne-Sophie Spann & Daniel Wehinger (eds.), Vermögen und Handung. Der dispositionale Realismus und unser Selbstverständnis als Handelnde. Mentis. pp. 135-157.
    Das Verb „anfangen“ lässt sich sowohl mit einem Akteur an Subjektstelle als auch subjektlos verwenden. Sogenannte subjektlose Sätze wie „Es fängt zu regnen an“ haben freilich ein grammatisches Subjekt, aber auf die Rückfrage „Wer oder was fängt zu regnen an?“ ist die einzig mögliche Antwort „Es“ unbefriedigend. Das grammatische Subjekt fungiert in solchen Sätzen lediglich als synkategorematischer Ausdruck. Menschliche Akteure können in gehaltvollerem Sinn etwas anfangen, zum Beispiel Streit, oder, wie es bei Kant heißt, „eine Reihe von Begebenheiten“. Mit dem (...)
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  12. The Deviance in Deviant Causal Chains.Neil McDonnell - 2015 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 4 (2):162-170.
    Causal theories of action, perception and knowledge are each beset by problems of so-called ‘deviant’ causal chains. For each such theory, counterexamples are formed using odd or co-incidental causal chains to establish that the theory is committed to unpalatable claims about some intentional action, about a case of veridical perception or about the acquisition of genuine knowledge. In this paper I will argue that three well-known examples of a deviant causal chain have something in common: they each violate Yablos proportionality (...)
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  13. Book Review: Rational Causation, Written by E. Marcus. [REVIEW]John Schwenkler - 2015 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 12 (2):235-238.
    This is an excellent book that deserves careful attention from anyone whose work touches on issues in the philosophy of mind and action. In it, Marcus challenges the dominant philosophical conception of the mind’s place in nature, according to which mentalistic explanations hold true only when mental states or events cause things to happen in the same way as physical states and events do. Against this conception, Marcus argues that mental causation is utterly dissimilar to most of the causation we (...)
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  14. Kathleen Lennon, Explaining Human Action. [REVIEW]Karl Pfeifer - 1991 - Philosophy in Review 11 (4):263-265.
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  15. Causation, Norms, and Omissions: A Study of Causal Judgments.Randolph Clarke, Joshua Shepherd, John Stigall, Robyn Repko Waller & Chris Zarpentine - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (2):279-293.
    Many philosophical theories of causation are egalitarian, rejecting a distinction between causes and mere causal conditions. We sought to determine the extent to which people's causal judgments discriminate, selecting as causes counternormal events—those that violate norms of some kind—while rejecting non-violators. We found significant selectivity of this sort. Moreover, priming that encouraged more egalitarian judgments had little effect on subjects. We also found that omissions are as likely as actions to be judged as causes, and that counternormative selectivity appears to (...)
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  16. Handeln und Verursachen.Geert Keil - 2000 - Klostermann.
    Wenn wir handeln, greifen wir in den Lauf der Welt ein und führen Veränderungen herbei, von denen wir zu Recht denken, daß sie nicht eingetreten wären, hätten wir nicht eingegriffen. Durch menschliche Eingriffe herbeigeführte Veränderungen machen aber nur einen kleinen Teil dessen aus, was in der Welt geschieht. Der größere Teil geschieht ohne unser Zutun. Beide Arten von Geschehnissen werden sowohl alltagssprachlich wie philosophisch in kausalem Vokabular beschrieben. Handelnde werden als kausale Urheber eines Geschehens verstanden; zugleich sind die mit Handlungen (...)
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  17. Towards a Convincing Account of Intention.Niel Henk Conradie - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Stellenbosch
    Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.
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  18. Hume and the Metaphysics of Agency.Joshua M. Wood - 2014 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (1):87-112.
    I examine Hume’s ‘construal of the basic structure of human agency’ and his ‘analysis of human agency’ as they arise in his investigation of causal power. Hume’s construal holds both that volition is separable from action and that the causal mechanism of voluntary action is incomprehensible. Hume’s analysis argues, on the basis of these two claims, that we cannot draw the concept of causal power from human agency. Some commentators suggest that Hume’s construal of human agency is untenable, unduly skeptical, (...)
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  19. The Luck Argument Against Event-Causal Libertarianism: It is Here to Stay.Markus E. Schlosser - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):375-385.
    The luck argument raises a serious challenge for libertarianism about free will. In broad outline, if an action is undetermined, then it appears to be a matter of luck whether or not one performs it. And if it is a matter of luck whether or not one performs an action, then it seems that the action is not performed with free will. This argument is most effective against event-causal accounts of libertarianism. Recently, Franklin (Philosophical Studies 156:199–230, 2011) has defended event-causal (...)
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  20. 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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  21. Addiction and Weakness of Will.Lubomira Radoilska - 2013 - Oxford University Press.
    Mental conflict not always amounts to weakness of will. Irresistible motives not always speak of addiction. This book proposes an integrated account of what singles out these phenomena: addiction and weakness of will are both forms of secondary akrasia. By integrating these two phenomena into a classical conception of akrasia as poor resolution of an unnecessary conflict – valuing without intending while intending without valuing – the book makes an original contribution to central issues in moral psychology and philosophy of (...)
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  22. Action, Deviance, and Guidance.Ezio Di Nucci - 2013 - Abstracta (2):41-59.
    I argue that we should give up the fight to rescue causal theories of action from fundamental challenges such as the problem of deviant causal chains; and that we should rather pursue an account of action based on the basic intuition that control identifies agency. In Section 1 I introduce causalism about action explanation. In Section 2 I present an alternative, Frankfurt’s idea of guidance. In Section 3 I argue that the problem of deviant causal chains challenges causalism in two (...)
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  23. Responses.Helen Steward - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (6):681-706.
    As the author of A Metaphysics for Freedom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), I respond to each of the preceding eight papers in this Special Issue.
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