This book offers an accessible and inclusive overview of the major debates in the philosophy of action. It covers the distinct approaches taken by Donald Davidson, G.E.M. Anscombe, and numerous others to answering questions like "what are intentional actions?" and "how do reasons explain actions?" Further topics include intention, practical knowledge, weakness and strength of will, self-governance, and collective agency. With introductions, conclusions, and annotated suggested reading lists for each of the ten chapters, it is an ideal introduction for advanced undergraduates as well as any philosopher seeking a primer on these issues.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: What Is the Philosophy of Action?
2. What Is the Problem of Action?
3. Action Explanation
4. The Ontology of Action
6. Practical Knowledge
7. Does Action Have a Constitutive Aim?
8. Identification and Self-Governance
9. Temptation, Weakness, and Strength of Will
10. Collective Agency
11. Concluding Thoughts
Sarah K. Paul is Associate Professor of Philosophy at New York University Abu Dhabi and Global Associate Professor of Philosophy at New York University.
"Sarah Paul succeeds in a seemingly impossible task: she provides a clear and concise view of a sprawling and complex area of philosophy, without sacrificing accuracy or depth. Her compelling, lucid style will make this field accessible to non-specialists, and her insightful and synoptic vision of the contemporary philosophical debates about action will make this book valuable to experts as well. This is the best introduction to the field, a must-read for anyone interested in philosophy of action."
Sergio Tenenbaum, University of Toronto
"In this book Sarah Paul achieves the near impossible: she provides a lucid survey of contemporary action theory that is assertive enough to serve as both guide and antagonist for readers while being fair to competing views in ways their critics rarely are. This is, by far, the best introduction to action theory I know."
Kieran Setiya, MIT