Companion to the Philosophy of Action
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A Companion to the Philosophy of Action offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action.
  • The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action (the central issues and processes relating to human actions)
  • Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts
  • Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, and rational agency in evolutionary perspective
  • Individual chapters also cover prominent historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur
  • Can be approached as a complete narrative, but also serves as a work of reference
  • Offers rich insights into an area of philosophical thought that has attracted thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks


Timothy O'Connor is Professor and Department Chair of philosophy at Indiana University Bloomington, and a member of its Cognitive Sciences program. He has published extensively in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and action, and philosophy of religion. His books include Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will (ed. 1995), Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will (2000), Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings (ed. 2003), Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (2008) and Downward Causation and the Necessity of Free Will (ed. 2010).

Constantine Sandis is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University and New York University in London. He is the editor of New Essays on the Explanation of Action (2009) and Hegel on Action (with Arto Laitinen, 2010), and author of The Things We Do and Why We Do Them (2010).


List of Illustrations xii

Notes on Contributors xiii

Preface to the Paperback Edition xxii

Acknowledgments xxiii

Introduction xxiv

Part I Acts and Actions 1

1 Action Theory and Ontology 3
E. J. Lowe

2 Basic Actions and Individuation 10
Constantine Sandis

3 Trying to Act 18
Jennifer Hornsby

4 Bodily Movements 26
Adrian Haddock

5 The Causal Theory of Action 32
Wayne A. Davis

6 Adverbs of Action and Logical Form 40
Kirk Ludwig

7 Refraining, Omitting, and Negative Acts 50
Kent Bach

8 Speech Acts 58
Mitchell S. Green

9 Collective Action 67
Margaret Gilbert

10 Habitual Actions 74
Bill Pollard

11 Cambridge Actions 82
David-Hillel Ruben

12 Pluralism about Action 90
Elijah Millgram

Part II Agency and Causation 97

13 Volition and the Will 99
Laura W. Ekstrom

14 Intention 108
Alfred R. Mele

15 Desire and Pleasure 114
Timothy Schroeder

16 Teleological Explanation 121
Scott Sehon

17 Reasons and Causes 129
Timothy O’Connor

18 Triggering and Structuring Causes 139
Fred Dretske

19 Motivating Reasons 145
Stephen Everson

20 Humeanism about Motivation 153
Michael Smith

21 Deviant Causal Chains 159
Rowland Stout

22 Action Explanation and the Unconscious 166
Edward Harcourt

23 Mental Causation and Epiphenomenalism 174
John Heil

24 The Explanatory Role of Consciousness 182
Naomi Eilan

25 What a Difference Emotions Make 191
Sabine A. Döring

26 Agency, Patiency, and Personhood 200
Soran Reader

27 Mental Acts 209
Joëlle Proust

28 Agent Causation 218
Randolph Clarke

29 Bodily Awareness and Bodily Action 227
Hong Yu Wong

30 Agents’ Knowledge 236
Johannes Roessler

31 Practical Reasoning 244
Bart Streumer

32 Deliberation and Decision 252
Philip Pettit

33 Motivational Strength 259
Alfred R. Mele

34 Addiction and Compulsion 267
Neil Levy

35 Akrasia and Irrationality 274
Sergio Tenenbaum

Part III Action in Special Contexts 283

36 Rationality 285
John Broome

37 Motivational Internalism and Externalism 293
G. F. Schueler

38 Free Will and Determinism 301
Thomas Pink

39 Responsibility and Autonomy 309
John Martin Fischer

40 Virtuous Action 317
Rosalind Hursthouse

41 The Doctrine of Double Effect 324
David S. Oderberg

42 Action and Criminal Responsibility 331
R. A. Duff

43 Intention in Law 338
Gideon Yaffe

44 Scientifi c Challenges to Free Will 345
Eddy Nahmias

45 Intentional Action in Folk Psychology 357
Bertram F. Malle

46 Attribution Theory 366
Bernard Weiner

47 Rational Agency in Evolutionary Perspective 374
Kim Sterelny and Ben Jeffares

48 Animal Agency 384
Hans-Johann Glock

49 Action in Cognitive Ethology 393
Marc Bekoff

50 Action in History and Social Science 401
Daniel Little

51 The Prediction of Action 410
Nassim N. Taleb and Avital Pilpel

Part IV Prominent Figures 417

52 Indian Philosophers 419
Elisa Freschi

53 Plato 429
Christine J. Thomas

54 Aristotle 439
Ursula Coope

55 Stoics, Epicureans, and Aristotelians 447
T. H. Irwin

56 Augustine and Aquinas 459
Stephen Boulter

57 Duns Scotus 466
Thomas Williams

58 Thomas Hobbes 473
Thomas Pink

59 Descartes 481
Paul Hoffman

60 Locke 490
Matthew Stuart

61 Berkeley 496
Tom Stoneham

62 Thomas Reid 505
Maria Alvarez

63 Hume 513
Annette C. Baier

64 Kant 521
Eric Watkins

65 Nietzsche 528
Brian Leiter

66 Hegel 537
Michael Quante

67 Weber 546
Kieran Allen

68 Wittgenstein 554
Severin Schroeder

69 Ryle 562
Julia Tanney

70 Sartre 570
Katherine J. Morris

71 Chisholm 578
Michael J. Zimmerman

72 von Wright 589
Frederick Stoutland

73 Davidson 598
Ralf Stoecker

74 Anscombe 606
Roger Teichmann

75 Ricoeur 613
Anna C. Zielinska

Index 622


“I recommend this volume to all those with any interest in the concepts treated in the philosophy of action.”  (Philosophy in Review, 1 December 2012)