Action theory

Jens Allwood
Table of contents

The concept of action plays a central role in theories about what ‘thinking beings’ do. Examples of events which can be called actions are running, congratulating someone, reforming the legal system, and reflecting on a problem. In discussing examples such as these, it is useful to distinguish the problem of defining the notion of action from the problem of giving criteria for the linguistic ascription of action terms. A common way of defining action is to define it as a type of behavior in the following way. An instance of behavior is an action if and only if it is associated with an intention making the behavior into a means for some end (compare e.g. von Wright 1971).

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