The Physical Action Theory of Trying

  • David-Hillel Ruben


I introduce the idea that an act of trying is identical to some physical action. Identity requires (at least) one-one correspondence: for each token trying act, there would have be one and only one token physical act (of course, namely itself) with which it is identical. There are two obstacles to the physical action theory of trying that are the opposite of one another: first, the availability of too many particular physical action tokens, and second, the lack of any. My discussion of the too-many-tokens problem leads me into a consideration of what I call the ‘mereological strategy’. I argue that that strategy fails but I leave it open whether or not some non-mereological parallel strategy might succeed. Finally, I look at the lack-of-any-physical-tokens problem, sometimes called ‘naked trying’. I sharpen the argument from the premiss that there are naked tryings to the conclusion that the physical identity theory fails. I believe that it is a scientifically established fact that there are such cases (it’s not just a matter about one’s ‘philosophical intuitions’ about such cases) and I examine two attempts to circumvent the naked trying argument and I conclude that they are unsuccessful.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David-Hillel Ruben
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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