Action Unified

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental acts are conspicuously absent from philosophical debates over the nature of action. A typical protagonist of a typical scenario is far more likely to raise her arm or open the window than she is to perform a calculation in her head or talk to herself silently. One possible explanation for this omission is that the standard 'causalist' account of action, on which acts are analysed in terms of mental states causing bodily movements, faces difficulties in accommodating some paradigmatic cases of mental action - or so I shall argue. After drawing out these objections to causalism, I outline a more promising approach. Building on previous work, I show how the approach I favour, on which the attempt to analyse action is dispensed with, provides a unified account of both mental and physical action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-83
Number of pages19
JournalPhilosophical Quarterly
Issue number262
StatePublished - 16 Sep 2015


  • Arts & Humanities
  • Philosophy
  • Cognition & reasoning
  • Causality


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