Print this page Share

A Companion to the Philosophy of Action

ISBN: 978-1-4051-8735-0
664 pages
May 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
A Companion to the Philosophy of Action (1405187352) cover image


A Companion to the Philosophy of Action offers a comprehensive overview of the issues and problems central to the philosophy of action.
  • The first volume to survey the entire field of philosophy of action (the central issues and processes relating to human actions)
  • Brings together specially commissioned chapters from international experts
  • Discusses a range of ideas and doctrines, including rationality, free will and determinism, virtuous action, criminal responsibility, Attribution Theory, and rational agency in evolutionary perspective
  • Individual chapters also cover prominent historic figures from Plato to Ricoeur
  • Can be approached as a complete narrative, but also serves as a work of reference
  • Offers rich insights into an area of philosophical thought that has attracted thinkers since the time of the ancient Greeks
See More

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations.

Notes on Contributors.



Part I Acts and Actions.

1 Action Theory and Ontology (E. J. Lowe).

2 Basic Actions and Individuation (Constantine Sandis).

3 Trying to Act (Jennifer Hornsby).

4 Bodily Movements (Adrian Haddock).

5 The Causal Theory of Action (Wayne A. Davis).

6 Adverbs of Action and Logical Form (Kirk Ludwig).

7 Refraining, Omitting, and Negative Acts (Kent Bach).

8 Speech Acts (Mitchell S. Green).

9 Collective Action (Margaret Gilbert).

10 Habitual Actions (Bill Pollard).

11 Cambridge Actions (David-Hillel Ruben).

12 Pluralism about Action (Elijah Millgram).

Part II Agency and Causation.

13 Volition and the Will (Laura W. Ekstrom).

14 Intention (Alfred R. Mele).

15 Desire and Pleasure (Timothy Schroeder).

16 Teleological Explanation (Scott Sehon).

17 Reasons and Causes (Timothy O'Connor).

18 Triggering and Structuring Causes (Fred Dretske).

19 Motivating Reasons (Stephen Everson).

20 Humeanism about Motivation (Michael Smith).

21 Deviant Causal Chains (Rowland Stout).

22 Action Explanation and the Unconscious (Edward Harcourt).

23 Mental Causation and Epiphenomenalism (John Heil).

24 The Explanatory Role of Consciousness (Naomi Eilan).

25 What a Difference Emotions Make (Sabine A. Döring).

26 Agency, Patiency, and Personhood (Soran Reader).

27 Mental Acts (Joëlle Proust).

28 Agent Causation (Randolph Clarke).

29 Bodily Awareness and Bodily Action (Hong Yu Wong).

30 Agents' Knowledge (Johannes Roessler).

31 Practical Reasoning (Bart Streumer).

32 Deliberation and Decision (Philip Pettit).

33 Motivational Strength (Alfred R. Mele).

34 Addiction and Compulsion (Neil Levy).

35 Akrasia and Irrationality (Sergio Tenenbaum).

Part III Action in Special Contexts.

36 Rationality (John Broome).

37 Motivational Internalism and Externalism (G. F. Schueler).

38 Free Will and Determinism (Thomas Pink).

39 Responsibility and Autonomy (John Martin Fischer).

40 Virtuous Action (Rosalind Hursthouse).

41 The Doctrine of Double Effect (David S. Oderberg).

42 Action and Criminal Responsibility (R. A. Duff).

43 Intention in Law (Gideon Yaffe).

44 Scientifi c Challenges to Free Will (Eddy Nahmias).

45 Intentional Action in Folk Psychology (Bertram F. Malle).

46 Attribution Theory (Bernard Weiner).

47 Rational Agency in Evolutionary Perspective (Kim Sterelny and Ben Jeffares).

48 Animal Agency (Hans-Johann Glock).

49 Action in Cognitive Ethology (Marc Bekoff).

50 Action in History and Social Science (Daniel Little).

51 The Prediction of Action (Nassim N. Taleb and Avital Pilpel).

Part IV Prominent Figures.

52 Indian Philosophers (Elisa Freschi).

53 Plato (Christine J. Thomas).

54 Aristotle (Ursula Coope).

55 Stoics, Epicureans, and Aristotelians (T. H. Irwin).

56 Augustine and Aquinas (Stephen Boulter).

57 Duns Scotus (Thomas Williams).

58 Thomas Hobbes (Thomas Pink).

59 Descartes (Paul Hoffman).

60 Locke (Matthew Stuart).

61 Berkeley (Tom Stoneham).

62 Thomas Reid (Maria Alvarez).

63 Hume (Annette C. Baier).

64 Kant (Eric Watkins).

65 Nietzsche (Brian Leiter).

66 Hegel (Michael Quante).

67 Weber (Kieran Allen).

68 Wittgenstein (Severin Schroeder).

69 Ryle (Julia Tanney).

70 Sartre (Katherine J. Morris).

71 Chisholm (Michael J. Zimmerman).

72 Von Wright (Frederick Stoutland).

73 Davidson (Ralf Stoecker).

74 Anscombe (Roger Teichmann).

75 Ricoeur (Anna C. Zielinska).


See More

Author Information

Timothy O’Connor is Professor and Department Chair of philosophy at Indiana University Bloomington, and a member of its Cognitive Sciences program. He has published extensively in metaphysics, philosophy of mind and action, and philosophy of religion. His books include Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will (ed. 1995), Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will (2000), Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings (ed. 2003), Theism and Ultimate Explanation: The Necessary Shape of Contingency (2008) and Downward Causation and the Necessity of Free Will (ed. 2010).

Constantine Sandis is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes University and New York University in London. He is the editor of New Essays on the Explanation of Action (2009) and Hegel on Action (with Arto Laitinen, 2010), and author of The Things We Do and Why We Do Them (2010).

See More


“I recommend this volume to all those with any interest in the concepts treated in the philosophy of action.”  (Philosophy in Review, 1 December 2012)

"The collection is a critically important resource for scholars of the philosophy of action. The overall clarity of the entries, moreover, also makes it accessible as a resource for undergraduate and graduate students working in the area. Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers." (Choice, 1 March 2011)

"O'Connor and Sandis have edited a wide-ranging, accessible collection that will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the philosophy of action. Highly recommended." (Metapsychology Online Reviews, 12 April 2011)

"This companion is a welcome addition to philosophical literature, asserting a kind of sovereignty over a territory often visited in philosophical discussions of mind, ethics and metaphysics, but not given any kind of independence. In asking us to regard the human action not merely as a part of other areas of philosophical investigation, but as one worth considering on its own, this Companion should be applauded. One particularly good feature of the book is that all the entries are substantial: while one can treat it as a reference work, readers will find it rewarding to read straight through the entries in a given section."
Samuel Guttenplan, Birkbeck, University of London

See More

Buy Both and Save 25%!


A Companion to the Philosophy of Action (US $232.95)

-and- A Companion to Bioethics, 2nd Edition (US $49.95)

Total List Price: US $282.90
Discounted Price: US $212.17 (Save: US $70.73)

Buy Both
Cannot be combined with any other offers. Learn more.

Related Titles

Back to Top