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Hardcover | $74.00 X | £61.95 | 336 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 2 b&w illus. | August 2010 | ISBN: 9780262014564
Paperback | $37.00 Short | £30.95 | 336 pp. | 6 x 9 in | 2 b&w illus. | August 2010 | ISBN: 9780262514767
eBook | $26.00 Short | August 2010 | ISBN: 9780262290340
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Causing Human Actions

New Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action


The causal theory of action (CTA) is widely recognized in the literature of the philosophy of action as the "standard story" of human action and agency—the nearest approximation in the field to a theoretical orthodoxy. This volume brings together leading figures working in action theory today to discuss issues relating to the CTA and its applications, which range from experimental philosophy to moral psychology. Some of the contributors defend the theory while others criticize it; some draw from historical sources while others focus on recent developments; some rely on the tools of analytic philosophy while others cite the latest empirical research on human action. All agree, however, on the centrality of the CTA in the philosophy of action. The contributors first consider metaphysical issues, then reasons-explanations of action, and, finally, new directions for thinking about the CTA. They discuss such topics as the tenability of some alternatives to the CTA; basic causal deviance; the etiology of action; teleologism and anticausalism; and the compatibility of the CTA with theories of embodied cognition. Two contributors engage in an exchange of views on intentional omissions that stretches over four essays, directly responding to each other in their follow-up essays. As the action-oriented perspective becomes more influential in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, this volume offers a long-needed debate over foundational issues.

Fred Adams, Jesús H. Aguilar, John Bishop, Andrei A. Buckareff, Randolph Clarke, Jennifer Hornsby, Alicia Juarrero, Alfred R. Mele, Michael S. Moore, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Josef Perner, Johannes Roessler, David-Hillel Ruben, Carolina Sartorio, Michael Smith, Rowland Stout.

About the Editors

Jesús H. Aguilar is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology.

Andrei A. Buckareff is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Marist College.

Table of Contents

  • Causing Human Actions
  • Causing Human Actions
  • New Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action
  • edited by Jesús H. Aguilar and Andrei A. Buckareff
  • A Bradford Book
  • The MIT Press
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • London, England
  • © 2010
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.
  • MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please email or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA 02142.
  • This book was set in Stone Sans and Stone Serif by Toppan Best-set Premidia Limited. Printed and bound in the United States of America.
  • “Omissions and Causalism” by Carolina Sartorio. Copyright 2009 Wiley-Blackwell. Reproduced with Permission of Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.
  • “Intentional Omissions” by Randolphe Clarke. Copyright 2010 Wiley-Blackwell. Reproduced with Permission of Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.
  • Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
  • Causing human actions : new perspectives on the causal theory of action / edited by Jesús H. Aguilar and Andrei A. Buckareff.
  •  p. cm.
  • “A Bradford Book.”
  • Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • ISBN 978-0-262-01456-4 (hardcover : alk. paper)—ISBN 978-0-262-51476-7 (pbk. : alk. paper)  1. Act (Philosophy). 2. Action theory. 3. Intentionality (Philosophy).  I. Aguilar, Jesús H. (Jesús Humberto), 1962–. II. Buckareff, Andrei A., 1971–.
  • B105.A35C38 2010
  • 128′.4—dc22
  • 2010003187
  • 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
  • Contents
  • Preface vii
  • 1 The Causal Theory of Action
  • :
  • Origins and Issues 1
  • Jesús H. Aguilar and Andrei A. Buckareff
  • 2 Renewed Questions about the Causal Theory of Action 27
  • Michael S. Moore
  • 3 The Standard Story of Action
  • :
  • An Exchange (1) 45
  • Michael Smith
  • 4 The Standard Story of Action
  • :
  • An Exchange (2) 57
  • Jennifer Hornsby
  • 5 Skepticism about Natural Agency and the Causal Theory of Action 69
  • John Bishop
  • 6 Agential Systems, Causal Deviance, and Reliability 85
  • Jesús H. Aguilar
  • 7 What Are You Causing in Acting? 101
  • Rowland Stout
  • 8 Omissions and Causalism 115
  • Carolina Sartorio
  • 9 Intentional Omissions 135
  • Randolph Clarke
  • 10 Comments on Clarke’s “Intentional Omissions” 157
  • Carolina Sartorio
  • 11 Reply to Sartorio 161
  • Randolph Clarke
  • 12 Causal and Deliberative Strength of Reasons for Action
  • :
  • The Case of Con-Reasons 167
  • David-Hillel Ruben
  • 13 Teleological Explanations of Actions
  • :
  • Anticausalism versus Causalism 183
  • Alfred R. Mele
  • 14 Teleology and Causal Understanding in Children’s Theory of Mind 199
  • Josef Perner and Johannes Roessler
  • 15 Action Theory Meets Embodied Cognition 229
  • Fred Adams
  • 16 Intentions as Complex Dynamical Attractors 253
  • Alicia Juarrero
  • 17 The Causal Theory of Action and the Still Puzzling Knobe Effect 277
  • Thomas Nadelhoffer
  • References 297
  • Contributors 323
  • Index 325


“The editors can be congratulated on having put together a stimulating collection of papers on a debate which, as the quality and intensity of the discussions shows, is far from exhausted.”—Analysis