Why are Philosophers of Action so Anti-Social?

  • Frederick Stoutland
Part of the Swansea Studies in Philosophy book series (SWSP)


Philosophers of action in the analytic tradition have not paid much attention to social agency — that is, to actions performed not by individual persons but by social groups of various kinds. Discussion has centred on what individual agents do or intend and on the reasons each has for acting. The standard assumption has been that there can be actions only where there are basic actions — actions one does not do by doing something -construed as ways in which we move our bodies. Since each of us has a distinct body and moving it as a basic action is something we all do on our own, there can be no basic actions which are social. The hope is to show how social actions can be derived from basic actions, but analysis seldom gets that far.


Social Action Bodily Motion Individual Agent Social Agent Causal Theory 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Frederick Stoutland

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