Actions and Other Events: The Unifier-multiplier Controversy

New York: Peter Lang (1989)
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This book is a general defence of Donald Davidson's and G.E.M. Anscombe's 'unifying' approach to the individuation of actions and other events against objections raised by Alvin I. Goldman and others. It is argued that, ironically, Goldman's rival 'multiplying' account is itself vulnerable to these objections, whereas Davidson's account survives them. Although claims that the unifier-multiplier dispute is not really substantive are shown to be unfounded, some room for limited agreement over the ontological status of events is indicated. Davidson's causal criterion of event identity is then defended against charges of triviality or inadequacy. It is concluded that Davidson's criterion is not primarily a criterion for arriving at particular judgments of individuation, but a metaphysical standard for the correctness of such judgments, however arrived at. Contents: Unifiers vs. Multipliers - Davidson's individuation of events - Goldman's act generation - causal, 'by'-relational, and temporal problems - ontology and event constituents - Davidson's causal criterion. This book is unique in providing a detailed survey and analysis of the recent unifier-multiplier dispute, and will be of interest to all researchers in action theory, as well as those working more broadly in metaphysics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind.

Author's Profile

Karl Pfeifer
University of Saskatchewan


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