Study of the Complex and Disputed Philosophical Questions Surrounding Human Action

Author: Shaw, Daniel
This study presents a dualist account of the nature of human action, dualist in a modest sense in that it defends the claim that generally actions involve two kinds of components – the physical and the mental – and that the mental components – the experiential awareness – cannot be interpreted in materialist of functionalist ways fashionable of late. The study identifies eleven elements or data concerning our everyday idea of human action. It then gives an account of the voluntary which, in stressing its character as an all-pervasive awareness of what it is like to be doing something as opposed to having things happen to one, neatly avoids the pitfalls of infinite regress associated with ‘acts of will’. The account of motives is fleshed out and defended against various well-known objections. Finally, the study spells out the author’s approach to freedom and indeterminism.


“. . . Shaw writes excellent philosophical prose, with striking and ingenious examples to illustrate his arguments. His work is a pleasure to read. It has originality and would be interesting to professional philosophers as well as being good for students to read.” – Professor J. J. C. Smart

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Introduction: Approaches to Philosophy of Action
1. The Data. Some Fundamental Beliefs about Voluntary, Intentional and Motivated Action
2. Voluntary Action and Its Relation to Motivated Action
3. Motivated Action
4. Freedom and Indeterminism
Bibliography; Index of Proper Names; Index of Subjects