Contributions to a physicalistic theory of action
Author(s)Simon, Steven H., 1957-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
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My project of giving a general physicalistic reduction of action contrasts with Donald Davidson's view that only individual actions can be explained in physicalistic terms. The main reason for his view is that he thinks the problem of internal causal deviance is insoluble. In the first chapter, I reconstruct the theory of action Davidson develops in Essays and Events and extend the theory to solve the deviance problem. The idea of the solution is that action requires "modulated movement," an ongoing process of monitoring and modulating the movements in which actions consist. In the second chapter, I develop the theory of modulated movement in more detail and argue that it can explain a number of cases of defective agency. I defend my contention that the analysis of modulated movement solves the deviance problem against several objections. In doing so, one of the main points I argue is that "ballistic movements," movements the agent cannot modify, cannot be actions. The psychological states in terms of which I analyze modulated movement are belief and desire, and in the third chapter I develop a reductive physicalistic account of a component of belief, indication. I start with a theory of indication that Robert Stalnaker presents in Inquiry, anddevelop the theory to cope with some problems for it that I identify. In the second part of the chapter, I extend the theory to explain cases of indication in which indicators are combined so that together they indicate propositions more specific or precise than any of the propositions they indicate alone, thus reducing complex cases of indication to simpler ones.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy, 2002.Includes bibliographical references (p. 139-141).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Linguistics and Philosophy.