The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Philosophy of action

Philosophy of action is chiefly concerned with human action, intending to distinguish between activity and passivity, voluntary, intentional, culpable and involuntary actions, and related question.

The field is often defined by the quote of Ludwig Wittgenstein: "What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?"

The problems of analytical philosophy of action include:

  • What are the temporal limits of an action? For instance, can an action end before its result occurs?
  • Is an action the same as some bodily movement? Does one movement under different descriptions constitute different actions?
  • Is an action the same as some event? Does one event under different descriptions constitute different actions?
  • How are actions to be explained or rationalized? Must there be a causal link between the explanation and the action (as suggested by Donald Davidson)? In what way are the agent's intentions involved?

See also


  • Philosophy of Action conference announcement:
  • Philosophy of Action syllabus:
  • Mele, Alfred (ed.): The Philosophy of Action, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1997
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Action,
  • "Philosophy of Action" - David Velleman
Last updated: 05-07-2005 17:31:27
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04