A Companion to the Philosophy of Action

A Companion to the Philosophy of Action

(Varios Autores, edición de Constantine Sandis y Timothy O’Connor)

En: Companion to the Philosophy of Action. Ed. Wiley-Blackwell.


“This book aims to offer an overview of the various issues and debates that permeate the philosophy of action and its explanation. It is structured in such a way that it can be read straight through, though it will no doubt be primarily used as a work of reference. To this end, the themed table of contents, cross – references, and index should help the reader to forge alternate pathways through the subject.

The volume divides into four sections. Part I, entitled “ Acts and Actions, ” introduces various ontological and conceptual issues concerning the nature of action, its relation to events (not least the movements of our bodies), and our descriptions of them. Some of the chapters elucidate various competing conceptions of the nature of action. Others focus on specific types (or categories) of acts and actions, such as speech acts, collective action, habitual actions, Cambridge actions, and negative acts. Part II, “ Agency and Causation, ” surveys philosophical thought centred around the production, purpose, and explanation of action. Topics discussed there include motivation, causal deviancy, and deliberation. Some of the chapters focus explicitly on explanation and causal antecedents, from volition to the explanatory roles of consciousness and emotion. Others are more directly concerned with issues relating to agency and control – for instance mental acts, practical reasoning, strength and weakness of will, addiction and compulsion, bodily awareness, and agential knowledge and causation. Part III, “ Action in Special Contexts, ” brings together a number of key ideas and doctrines within the context of (a) normative psychology and (b) nature and science, construed broadly. These chapters will also serve to highlight the importance and relevance of action theory both to philosophy as a whole and to neighbouring disciplines. Discussion begins with traditional questions concerning rationality, moral judgment, free will, autonomy, and responsibility, before addressing the wider role of action in ethics and law –from virtue ethics to criminal liability. The chapters concerned with nature and science range over a wide range of disciplines – as diverse as folk psychology, cognitive ethology, evolutionary psychology, history, and social science. Issues discussed here include animal action, scientific challenges to free will, and socio-economic prediction. The final section of the book – Part IV: “ Prominent Figures ” –surveys the relevant work of a wide (though by no means exhaustive) range of influential thinkers who have written about action, from Plato to Paul Ric oe ur. The chapters gathered here should constitute a good starting point for those working within the history of ideas.

Many demonstrate, further, the role that action theory can play within a large philosophical system. Although the Indian philosophers discussed in chapter 52 are writing after the rise of Hellenistic philosophy, we chose to open the section with this chapter as the Vedas and Upanishads in which the ideas of classical Indian philosophy originate were composed centuries before Plato. We have also chosen not to include chapters on any living philosophers for reasons of space and, more importantly, because their views are expressed or described throughout this volume as a whole.

While we have tried our best to capture as vast and varied a terrain as possible, volumes of this kind are bound to be selective, even when their theme is as focused as philosophy of action. Numerous topics, philosophers, and methodologies that have not been allocated a specific chapter are nonetheless covered across the volume (experimental philosophy of action is a case in point). We hope that readers will use the index to locate their permeating influence.”

Constantine Sandis and Timothy O’Connor

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