The traditional focus of debate in philosophy of action has been the causal theory of action and metaphysical questions about the nature of actions as events. In this lucid and lively introduction to philosophy of action, Rowland Stout shows how these issues are subsidiary to more central ones that concern the freedom of the will, practical rationality and moral psychology. When seen in these terms, agency becomes one of the most exciting areas in philosophy and one of the most useful ways into the philosophy of mind. If one can understand what it is to be a free and rational agent, then one is some way to understanding what it is to be a conscious subject of experience. Although the book places the traditional Davidsonian agenda centre stage, it locates it historically by considering in particular Aristotle and Kant. It also takes the debate beyond Davidson by considering one of the most recent issues of interest in the philosophy of action, externalism. By focusing on the central issues of freedom and rationality as well as on the ontological structure of human action, Stout is able to offer readers a fresh and engaging treatment.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements 1. Introduction: inward-looking and outward-looking approaches to agency 2. Acting for a reason 3. Reasons and passions 4. Agent causation 5. Mental causation 6. Deviant causal chains and causal processes 7. Acting with an intention 8. Prior intention 9. The metaphysics of action Conclusion Notes Further reading References Index
Rowland Stout is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at University College Dublin, Ireland.
"… Stout writes clearly and energetically, his arguments are extremely lucid, and his examples engaging. He presents some of the most important topics related to action theory in a fair and accurate manner, and offers a number of insightful discussions of the views of others. Its thoughtfulness and originality should spark new debates. Anybody interested in the philosophy of action and its explanation would do well to read this book." - Times Literary Supplement