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Maintained by Andrei Buckareff

This webpage is devoted to contemporary action theory, including the free will debate, practical reasoning, moral responsibility, the nature of intention and intentionality (and folk psychology more broadly), mental causation, moral psychology, and the assorted standard topics of interest philosophers of action work on (e.g., intentional action, reasons for action, etc.). I have modeled this page after Keith DeRose's Epistemology Page . Like DeRose's page, this is a work in progress, only mine is in its infancy.

As one may notice, action theory is one of those unique areas in philosophy with a boundary that is difficult to fix. The concerns of action theorists overlap with those doing work in other areas of the philosophy of mind and metaphysics, as well as moral philosophy, the philosophy of religion, logic, epistemology, legal philosophy, and, with the recent growing interest in social action theory, social and political philosophy.

What I intend to do in the weeks and months to come is provide a list of some of the most important collections of essays compiled since 1990, as well as some good monographs on topics in action theory. These volumes and articles may serve as a good starting point for those interested in action theory. Also, the anthologies listed should be in the library of any philosopher interested in the issues discussed by action theorists. The list I've provided below is far from comprehensive. I've also put links to the webpages of some of the philosophers listed. Additionally, following DeRose's example to some extent, if a prominent figure in the field has not published anything for some time, I've included his or her name and the most recent article or monograph I could find by the author. Finally, I list some M.A. and Ph.D. programs that have faculty members doing work in the philosophy of action or related areas, as well as Brian Leiter's list of the top schools to do work in action theory.

Some Prominent Philosophers Doing Work in the Philosophy of Action

Alfred Mele, John Bishop, Robert Audi, Michael Bratman, Jennifer Hornsby, Robert Kane

Hugh J. McCann, Donald Davidson, Judith Jarvis Thomson, John Martin Fischer, John Searle, Alvin Goldman

NOTE: The bibliography below is far from complete. I'm always stumbling across new articles, monographs, and collections. Keeping up with everything can be exhausting. I take this, however, to be a good sign of the health of the field and the fact that action theory is far from dead.

Recent Collections of Essays

B. Malle, L. Moses, and Baldwin eds., Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition(Cambridge: MIT, 2001)

Jan Bransen and Stefaan E. Cuypers, eds., Human Action, Deliberation and Causation (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998)

Sarah Buss and Lee Overton, eds.,Countours of Agency: Essays on Themes from Harry Frankfurt (Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2002)

Garrett Cullity and Berys Gaut, eds., Ethics and Practical Reason (Oxford: Clarendon, 1997)

Laura Waddell Ekstrom, ed., Agency and Responsibility: Essays on the Metaphysics of Freedom (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000)

John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza, eds., Perspectives on Moral Responsibility (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993)

John Heil and Alfred Mele, eds., Mental Causation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)

Robert Kane, ed., The Oxford Companion to Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2001)

G. Holmstrom-Hintikka and R. Tuomela, eds., Contemporary Action Theory, 2 vols., (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997)

Georg Meggle and Andreas Wojcik, eds., Actions, Norms, Values: Discussions with Georg Henrik von Wright (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1998)

Alfred Mele, ed., The Philosophy of Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Timothy O'Connor, ed., Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

Derk Pereboom, ed., Free Will, (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997)

J. Roessler, & N. Eilan, eds., Agency and self-awareness: Issues in philosophy and psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, in press)

James Tomberlin, ed., Philosophical Perspectives: Action and Freedom, Volume 14 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)

James Tomberlin, ed., Philosophical Perspectives: Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind (Volume 4, 1990)

Edna Ullmann-Margalit, ed., Reasoning Practically (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000)

R. Jay Wallace, ed., Reason, Emotion and Will (Aldershot, England: Ashgate,1999)

Gary Watson, ed., Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982)

Recent Articles and Monographs with Links to Some of the Authors

George Ainslie, Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Temple University Medical School

-Breakdown of Will(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

-"A Research-Based Theory of Addictive Motivation," -Law and Philosophy 19 (2000): 77-115.

-Picoeconomics: The Strategic Interaction of Successive Motivational States within the Person (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)

Colin Allen, Texas A&M University

-"It isn't what you think: a new idea about intentional causation," Nous, 29 (1995): 115-126.

Elizabeth Anscombe (Deceased, January 2001)

-Intention, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000)

(This is a reprint. I'm personally quite excited to see this seminal work once again made available for young philosophers like myself to purchase.)

Robert Audi, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

-Action, Intention, and Reason (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993)

-"Acting from virtue," Mind, 104 (1995): 449-471.

-"Intending and It's Place in the Theory of Action" Contemporary Action Theory, Vol. 1, G. Holmstrom-Hintikka and R. Tuomela (eds.) (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1997), pp. 177-196.

John Bishop, University of Auckland

-Natural Agency: An Essay on the Causal Theory of Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Myles Brand, Indiana University

-Intending and Acting: Toward a Naturalized Action Theory (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984)

Robert Brandom, University of Pittsburgh

-Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000)

-"Action, Norms, and Practical Reasoning," Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 12: Language, Mind, and Ontology, James Tomberlin, ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998)

Michael Bratman, Stanford University

-Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987)

-Faces of Intention: Selected Essays on Intention and Agency (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999)

-"Reflection, Planning, and Temporally Extended Agency" The Philosophical Review, (2000): 35-61.

- "Valuing and the Will"Philosophical Perspectives: Action and Freedom, volume 14 (2000): 249-265.

Sarah Buss, University of Iowa

-"What Practical Reasoning Must Be If We Act For Our Own Reasons," Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (1999)

-"Weakness of Will," Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (1997)

-"Autonomy Reconsidered," Midwest Studies in Philosophy 19 (1994)

Hector-Neri Castaneda (Deceased)

-Thinking and Doing, (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1975)

Kam-Yueng Cheng, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

-"Davidson's action theory and epiphenomenalism," Journal of Philosophical Research, 22 (1997): 181-195

Roderick Chisholm (Deceased)

Person and Object: A Metaphysical Study (La Salle: Open Court, 1976)

-"Agents, Causes, and Events: The Problem of Free Will," Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will, Timothy O'Connor, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

-"Freedom and Action," Freedom and Determinism, Keith Lehrer, ed. (New York: Random House, 1966)

-"The Descriptive Element in the Concept of Action," Journal of Philosophy 61 (1964): 613-625

Timothy Cleveland, New Mexico State University

Trying without Willing: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1997)

Arthur C. Danto, Columbia University

-Analytical Philosophy of Action (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1973)

Donald Davidson, University of California, Berkeley (emeritus)

-Essays on Actions & Events, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980)

Richard Double, Edinboro University

Metaphilosophy and Free Will, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

The Non-Reality of Free Will, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)

-"Misdirection in the free will problem," American Philosophical Quarterly, 34 (1997): 181-195.

Fred Dretske, Duke University

-Explaining Behavior (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1988)

-"The Metaphysics of Freedom," Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 22 (1992): pp. 1-14

John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside

-The Metaphysics of Free Will, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994)

Carl Ginet, Cornell University

-On Action, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990)

"Freedom, Responsibility, and Agency," The Journal of Ethics 1 (1997): 85-98

Stewart Goetz, Ursinus College

"Libertarian Choice," Faith and Philosophy, 14 (1997): 195-211

Bennett Helm, Franklin and Marshall College

-Emotional Reason: Deliberation, Motivation, and the Nature of Value (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)

-"Emotions and Practical Reason," Nous 35 (2001): 190-213

Jennifer Hornsby, Birkbeck College, University of London

-Simplemindedness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996)

Actions (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980)

Robert Kane, University of Texas

-The Significance of Free Will, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

-"Free Will, Responsibility and Will-setting," Philosophical Topics 24 (1996), 67-90

-"Responsibility, Luck and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism," The Journal of Philosophy 96 (1999): 217-240

Jeanette Kennett, Monash University

-Agency and Responsibility: A Common Sense Moral Psychology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001)

-"Decision Theory and Weakness of Will," Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 72 (1991): 113-130

Joshua Knobe, Princeton University

-"Intentional Action and Side Effects in Ordinary Language," Analysis 63 (2003): 190-193

-"Intentional Action in Folk Psychology: An Experimental Investigation," Philosophical Psychology 16 (2003): 309-324.

Hugh McCann, Texas A&M University

-The Works of Agency: On Human Action, Will, and Freedom (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998)

-"Intention and Motivational Strength," Journal of Philosophical Research 20 (1995): 283-296

-"Dretske on the Metaphysics of Freedom," Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 23 (1993): pp. 619-630

Alfred Mele, Florida State University

Motivation & Agency (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

-Autonomous Agents: From Self-Control to Autonomy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995)

-Springs of Action: Understanding Intentional Behavior (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)

-Irrationality: An Essay on Akrasia, Self-Deception, and Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)

-"Intentional Action: Controversies, Data, and Core Hypotheses," Philosophical Psychology 16 (2003): 325-340.

-"Agents' Abilities," Nous 37 (2003): 447-470

-"Deciding to Act," Philosophical Studies 100 (2000): 81-108

-"Kane, Luck, and the Significance of Free Will," Philosophical Explorations 2 (1999): 96-104

Alfred Mele and Paul Moser

-"Intentional Action," Nous, 28 (1994): 39-68

Paul Moser , Loyola University Chicago

"Reasons, Values, and Rational Action," Journal of Philosophical Research, Vol. 15 (1990), 127-51

Elijah Milgram, University of Utah

-Practical Induction, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997)

"Hume on Practical Reasoning," Iyyun 46 (1997):235-265

Carlos Moya, University of Valencia (Spain)

-The Philosophy of Action: An Introduction, (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1990)

Timothy O'Connor, Indiana University

-Persons and Causes: The Metaphysics of Free Will (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000)

-"Why Agent-Causation?," Philosophical Topics 24 (1996): 143-158

-"Indeterminism and Free Agency: Three Recent Views," Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (1993): 499-526

Derk Pereboom, University of Vermont

-"Determinism Al Dente," NoŻs 29 (1995): 21-45

Thomas Pink, King's College London

-The Psychology of Freedom, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)

-"Purposive Intending," Mind 100 (1991): 343-359

G.F. Schueler, University of New Mexico

-Reasons and Purposes: Human Rationality and the Teleological Explanation of Action (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

"Action Explanation: Causes and Purposes," Intentions and Intentionality, eds., D.B. Baldwin, B. Malle, L. Moses (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001)

-Desire: Its Role in Practical Reasoning and the Explanation of Action (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995)

Frederic Schick, Rutgers University

-Understanding Action, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991)

John Searle, University of California, Berkeley

-Rationality in Action (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001)

-"Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology," Philosophy 76 (2001): 491-514

Wilfrid Sellars (Deceased)

-"Volitions Reaffirmed," M. Brand and D. Walton, eds., Action Theory (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1976)

-"Action and Events," Nous 7 (1973): 179-202

Charles Taylor, McGill University

The Explanation of Behaviour, (London, UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1964)

Richard Taylor, University of Rochester (emeritus)

-Action and Purpose, (Engelwood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1966)

-"Agent and Patient: Is There a Distinction," Erkenntnis 18 (1982): 223-232

Irving Thalberg (Deceased)

-Perception, Emotion, and Action (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1977)

-Enigmas of Agency: Studies in the Philosophy of Human Action (London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1972)

-"Do Our Intentions Cause Our Intentional Actions?," American Philosophical Quarterly 21 (1984): 249-260

Raimo Tuomela, University of Helsinki

-Human Action and Its Explanation (Dordrecht: Reidel, 1977)

J. David Velleman, University of Michigan

The Possibility of Practical Reason, (Oxford: Clarendon, 2000)

-Practical Reflection, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989)

Practical Reflection is available online at David Velleman's webpage

"What Happens When Someone Acts?," Mind 101 (1992): 461-481.

R. Jay Wallace, University of California, Berkeley

-Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994)

-"How to Argue About Practical Reason," Mind 99 (1990): 355-385

Daniel Wegner, Harvard University (Wegner has an extensive list of his publications with links to pdf files of many papers philosophers of action should find of interest

-The Illusion of Conscious Will, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002)

-"The Mind's Best Trick: How We Experience Conscious Will," Trends in Cognitive Science 7 (2003): 65-69

G.H. von Wright, University of Helsinki (R.I.P.)

-Explanation and Understanding, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971)

George Wilson, University of California, Davis

-The Intentionality of Human Action (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989)

Links to Websites

The Garden of Forking Paths: A Free Will/Moral Responsibility Blog (includes related issues in action theory and moral psychology)

Papers on Agency and Related Issues

Experimental Philosophy Blog (includes discussions about action theory and moral psychology)

CALL FOR PAPERS: 32nd Annual Conference on Value Inquiry: Values, Rational Choice and the Will, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Submission Deadline: January 9, 2004. Conference: April 1-3, 2004.

Dictionary of the Philosophy of Mind

Elisabeth Pacherie's Action Theory Page


Participate in Joshua Knobe's (Princeton University) experiments on the Concept of Intentional Action

Intentionality Seminar in the Psychology Department at the University of Oregon taught by Dare A. Baldwin, Bertram F. Malle, and Louis J. Moses

George Ainslie's Picoeconomics Website

Collective Intentionality Website

Relevant Entries in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Action(George Wilson)

Free Will(Timothy O'Connor)

Incompatibilist (Nondeterministic) Theories of Free Will(Randolph Clarke)

Moral Responsibility(Andrew Eshleman)

Personal Autonomy(Sarah Buss)

Philosophical Explorations: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Mind and Action

Philosophy of Action and Moral Psychology Bibliography (1995-1997) Compiled by Christian Perring

Daniel Wegner's course on Conscious Will

Luca Ferrero's 2002 Action Theory Seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Luca Ferrero's 2003 Action Theory Seminar at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Elijah Millgram's Seminar on Practical Reasoning

J. David Velleman's Philosophy of Action Seminar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

J. David Velleman's Seminar on the Self

The Royal Institute of Philosophy Conference on Action and Agency at Oxford University, September 13-15, 2002

Conference on the Will in Moral Psychology at the University of Edinburgh, July 1-2, 2002