Undergraduate Course: Philosophy of Action (PHIL10209)
|School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
|College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)
|SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate)
|Not available to visiting students
|This course examines in depth the field of philosophy of action. Students will learn about prominent approaches to action theory - such as those championed by Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson. They will consider a variety of central issues in the philosophy of action. These issues may include moral responsibility, irrational action and the possibility of weakness of will, unfree action, unconsciously motivated action, and the kind of action that we identify with and that, in a salient sense, makes us who we are.
Wittgenstein famously asked: 'What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?' (PI, §621) -In virtue of what is the action of raising my arm an action rather than a mere event, or something that merely happens? And what role do I, as agent, have in making it happen? These questions lie at the centre of the Philosophy of Action, a branch of philosophy that brings together issues in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
The course will consider questions such as: If something is an intentional action, in virtue of the agent's comprehensions of the reasons for performing it, then how is irrational action possible? How are we to make sense of unconsciously motivated action and unfree action? How are we to make sense of alienation from action, and what does it take to identify oneself with one's actions in such a way that one thereby attains a sense of self? Finally, how do these two prominent approaches to action theory make sense of moral responsibility?
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
| Students MUST have passed:
Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) AND
Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017)
| Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Articulate in their own terms the main conception of intentional action
- Develop a rational reconstruction of an important philosophical view, such as Anscombe¿s
- Critically and closely read difficult philosophical texts
- Understand the connection between agency and rationality
- Recognise the mistake involved in thinking of what we do as an outcome
|Elizabeth Anscombe, Intention.
Donald Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events.
Harry Frankfurt, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person."
Pamela Hieronymi, "Reasons for Action."
Jennifer Hornsby, "Agency and Alienation."
Richard Holton, "Intention and Weakness of Will."
Berislav Marusic, Evidence and Agency.
Sebastian Rödl, "The Form of the Will."
Tamar Schapiro, Feeling Like It: A Theory of Inclination and Will.
John Schwenkler, "Understanding Practical Knowledge."
Kieran Setiya, "Sympathy for the Devil."
David Velleman, "The Guise of the Good."
David Velleman, "What Happens when Someone Acts?"
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Mindsets: Enquiry and lifelong learning; Outlook and engagement
Skill groups: Personal and intellectual autonomy; Personal effectiveness
|Dr Berislav Marusic
|Mr Peter Cruickshank
Tel: (131 6)50 3961