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The Metaphysics of Action: Trying, Doing, Causing

London: Palgrave Macmillan (2018)

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  1. Graded Abilities and Action Fragility.David Storrs-Fox - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
    Recent work by Alfred Mele, Romy Jaster and Chandra Sripada recognizes that abilities come in degrees of fallibility. The rough idea is that abilities are often not surefire. They are liable to fail. The more liable an ability is to fail, the more fallible it is. Fallibility is plausibly significant for addiction, responsibility, and normative theorizing. However, we lack an adequate account of what fallibility consists in. This article addresses that problem. Perhaps the most natural approach is to say (roughly) (...)
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  • Reply to ‘attempts’: a non-davidsonian account of trying sentences.David-Hillel Ruben - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (12):3817-3830.
    In various of my writings, both in Philosophical Studies and elsewhere, I have argued that an account of trying sentences is available that does not require quantification over alleged attempts or tryings. In particular, adverbial modification in such sentences can be dealt with, without quantification over any such particulars. In ‘Attempts’, Jonathan D. Payton (Payton, 2021) has sought to dispute my claim. In this paper, I consider his claims and reply to them. I believe that my account withstands such scrutiny.
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  • Attempts.Jonathan D. Payton - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (2):363-382.
    It’s generally assumed that, if an agent x acts by ϕ-ing, then there occurs an event which is x’s ϕ-ing. But what about when an agent tries to do something? Are there such things as attempts? The standard answer is ‘Yes’. But in a series of articles, and now a book, David-Hillel Ruben has argued that the answer is ‘No’: what happens when x tries to ϕ isn’t that an attempt occurs; rather, what happens is simply that a certain subjunctive (...)
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  • Let me go and try.Kirk Ludwig - 2021 - Philosophical Explorations 24 (3):340-358.
    This paper argues for a deflationary account of trying on which ‘x tried to ϕ’ abbreviates ‘x did something with the intention of ϕ-ing’, where ‘did something’ is treated as a schematic verb. On this account, tryings are not a distinctive sort of episode present in some or all cases of acting. ‘x tried to ϕ’ simply relates some doing of x’s to a further aim x had, which may or may not have been achieved. Consequently, the analysis of ‘x (...)
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  • How agency is constitutive of phenomenal consciousness: pushing the first and third-personal approaches to their limits.Zixuan Liu - forthcoming - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences:1-32.
    Husserl characterizes sleep with the idea of “the relaxation of the will.” One finds a similar approach in the work of Maine de Biran, who explains sleep as “the suspension of the will.” More recently, Brian O’Shaughnessy and Matthew Soteriou have argued that mental actions constitute wakeful consciousness. In clinical practice, patients with disorders of consciousness who show “purposeful” behavior are classified as “minimally conscious,” while those in an “unresponsive wakeful state” merely behave reflexively. To what extent and how are (...)
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  • The Question of Iterated Causation.David Mark Kovacs - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (2):454-473.
    This paper is about what I call the Question of Iterated Causation (QIC): for any instance of causation in which c1…ck cause effect e, what are the causes of c1…ck’s causing of e? In short: what causes instances of causation or, as I will refer to these instances, the “causal goings‐on”? A natural response (which I call “dismissivism”) is that this is a bad question because causal goings‐on aren’t apt to be caused. After rebutting several versions of dismissivism, I consider (...)
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  • Thing Causation.Nathaniel Baron-Schmitt - forthcoming - Noûs.
    According to orthodoxy, the most fundamental kind of causation involves one event causing another event. I argue against this event‐causal view. Instead, the most fundamental kind of causation is thing causation, which involves a thing causing a thing to do something. Event causation is reducible to thing causation, but thing causation is not reducible to event causation, because event causation cannot accommodate cases of fine‐grained causation. I defend my view from objections, including C. D. Broad's influential “timing” argument, and I (...)
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  • Trying without fail.Ben Holguín & Harvey Lederman - manuscript
    An action is agentially perfect if and only if, if a person tries to perform it, they succeed, and, if a person performs it, they try to. We argue that trying itself is agentially perfect: if a person tries to try to do something, they try to do it; and, if a person tries to do something, they try to try to do it. We show how this claim sheds new light on the logical structure of intentional action, on the (...)
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