Action and its Explanation

Hardcover | July 10, 2003

byDavid-Hillel Ruben

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David-Hillel Ruben's new book pursues some novel and unusual standpoints in the philosophy of action. He rejects, for example, the most widely held view about how to count actions, and argues for what he calls a 'prolific theory' of act individuation. He also describes and argues against thetwo leading theories of the nature of action, the causal theory and the agent causal theory. The causal theory cannot account for skilled activity, nor for mental action. The agent causalist theory unnecessarily reifies causings. He identifies an assumption that they share, and that most actiontheorists have assumed to be unproblematic and uncontroversial, that an action is, or entails the existence of, an event. Several different meanings to that claim are disentangled and in the most interesting sense of that claim, Ruben denies that it is true. His own alternative is simple andunpretentious: nothing informative can be said about the nature of action that explicates action in any other terms.Ruben sketches a theory of causal explanation of action that eschews the requirement for laws or generalisations, and this effectively quashes one argument for the oft-repeated view that no explanations of action can be causal, on the grounds that there are no convincing cases of laws of humanaction. He addresses a number of questions about the knowledge an agent has of his own actions, looking particularly at examples of pathological cases of action in which, for one reason or another, the agent does not know what he is doing.Inspiring and enlightening in its challenge to received wisdom, and in its convincing defence of some unfashionable positions, Action and its Explanation will be required reading for anyone working in this field.

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From the Publisher

David-Hillel Ruben's new book pursues some novel and unusual standpoints in the philosophy of action. He rejects, for example, the most widely held view about how to count actions, and argues for what he calls a 'prolific theory' of act individuation. He also describes and argues against thetwo leading theories of the nature of action,...

David-Hillel Ruben is at New York University and University of London.

other books by David-Hillel Ruben

Explaining Explanation
Explaining Explanation

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Explaining Explanation
Explaining Explanation

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:250 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.67 inPublished:July 10, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198235887

ISBN - 13:9780198235880

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Cambridge Theory of Action2. Some Preliminaries3. Theories of Action and an Introduction to the Causal Theory of Action4. The Causal Theory of Action5. More Theories6. A Counterfactual Theory of Causal ExplanationAppendix on the Epistemology of Action

Editorial Reviews

`by any measure a highly valuable contribution to the theory of action and action explanation. Because of its novel standpoint on many issues and its subtle and sustained critique of much current wisdom, its readers will find this book both inspiring and challenging.'Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews