Download PDF by John and Helen Steward, editors Hyman: Agency and Action (Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement;

By John and Helen Steward, editors Hyman

ISBN-10: 0521603560

ISBN-13: 9780521603560

This selection of unique essays via major philosophers covers the total variety of the philosophy of motion.

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Additional resources for Agency and Action (Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement; 55)

Sample text

It is also necessary that the action be appropriately related to the beliefs and desires. Again, the question is what relation is at issue here. One thing we know already, however, is that that relation cannot be causal. We know this because there cannot be a rational norm that requires one to be caused to act by A-type pairings of beliefs and desires. Rationality might demand that one acts in the light of such beliefs and desires (whatever that is to turn out to mean). But this has to be something that one is capable of doing or not doing.

It may yet be thought that I exaggerate when I say that the standard story is not a story of human agency at all. Many people suppose that it is only a kind of shorthand that leads philosophers to favour a slogan like the summary version of the standard causal story—'beliefs and desires cause actions'. What this means, so these people say, is that 'a person's believing something and a person's 21 Jennifer Hornsby desiring something causes that person's doing something'. According to this line, agents' mental states and their actions are really mentioned, even if agents themselves are not highlighted, in the language of the shorthand and of the standard story.

51), pushing the boat out (p. 54), and the knowledge of what one is writing without looking (p. 53 and p. 82). What is striking is that in these examples of ordinary actions, essential reference is made to events taking place outside the boundaries of the person's body, and yet Anscombe insists that this sort of knowledge of 'what I am doing' is also not based on observation. I have argued that my knowledge of what I do is not by observation. A very clear and interesting case of this is that in which I shut my eyes and write something.

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Agency and Action (Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement; 55) by John and Helen Steward, editors Hyman


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