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The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 2, 1999

Metaphysics

David-Hillel Ruben
Pages 73-80

Actions and Their Parts

The Causal Theory of Action (CTA) is the view that x is person p’s token action if x is a movement of p’s body caused in the right way by p’s mental states which rationalise x. But there seem to be many actions which are part of a ‘larger’ action, like some particular movement executed in shaving, which are preceded by no such rationalising mental states. To cover these cases, the amended CTA says that some item x is a person p’s action if either the above account is true of x or x is part of a whole such that the above account is true of the whole. I discuss various senses of ‘part’ which might make the amended account plausible and conclude that the account is overly permissive; it will count as actions many items which clearly are not actions.

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