Theories of Action

  • Bruce Aune
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 9)


The first part of this chapter is concerned with three rival theories of action. Each theory conceives of an action as an event or process in time, or as an aggregate of such events and processes; and each conceives of an action as adequately individuated by virtue of its causes and effects. I shall argue that, if a metaphysical commitment to events is accepted, no one of the theories is clearly preferable to the others. This is a surprising result, since the theories are espoused by philosophers as diverse in orientation as H. A. Prichard, Donald Davidson and R. G. Collingwood. In the last section of the chapter I argue that a metaphysical commitment to events is actually questionable and that, if it is rejected, a theory of agents must be accepted as clearly preferable to any theory that is explicitly concerned with actions and attempts to specify the conditions of their identity.


Singular Term Physical Movement Equivalent Formula Complex Predicate Action Sentence 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Aune
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts at AmherstAmherstUSA

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