This course is an advanced introduction to major topics in contemporary Action Theory. Action Theory is a division of metaphysics concerned with providing an account of behaviour. Specific topics include: the relation between trying and acting; how to act on reasons; the relation between desires and actions; and, our freedom to choose between different courses of action. We shall study figures such as Wittgenstein, Davidson, Hornsby, James, and more.
This course is for upper-year undergraduates and is in seminar format.
Various readings on reserve.
- One presentation worth 30% on a selected reading.
- One commentary worth 20% on another student’s presentation.
- One take-home exam worth 35% on an assigned topic.
- Weekly participation, assessed on the quality and quantity thereof, worth 15%.
|01||Syllabus; Wittgenstein, L. Philosophical Investigations|
Action and Causes
|02||Davidson, D. “Actions, Reasons, and Causes”|
|03||Frankfurt, H. “The Problem of Action”|
|04||Bratman, M. “Two Problems of Agency”|
|05||Hornsby, J. “Agency and Action”|
Intention and Intentional Action
|06||Anscombe, G. E. M. Intention|
|07||Velleman, D. “Intentions”|
|08||James, W. The Principles of Psychology|
|09||Hornsby, J. “Trying to Act”|
|10||O’Shaughnessy, B. “Trying (as the mental ‘pineal gland)”|
Acting for Reasons
|11||Chang, R. “Can Desires Provide Reasons for Action?”|
|12||Woods, M. & Foot, P. “Reasons for Action and Desires”|
|13||Dancy, J. “Reasons for Action”|