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Causing Human ActionsNew Perspectives on the Causal Theory of Action$
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Jesús H. Aguilar and Andrei A. Buckareff

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780262014564

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262014564.001.0001

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Agential Systems, Causal Deviance, and Reliability

Agential Systems, Causal Deviance, and Reliability

(p.84) (p.85) 6 Agential Systems, Causal Deviance, and Reliability
Causing Human Actions

H. Aguilar Jesús

The MIT Press

This chapter presents a plausible strategy, grounded on the proposal that the bodily movement corresponding to an action must be sensitive to the content of the mental state that causes it, for defending the theory against the possibility of deviant causal chains. This is referred to here as the sensitivity condition. The causal theory of action (CTA) has traditionally been burdened with problems emerging from so-called deviant causal chains, namely, chains of events that satisfy the CTA’s conditions for the production of an action but whose product is intuitively not an action. The term “sensitivity” here is used in a specific sense referring to the specific responsiveness that a bodily movement can have to the particular content of a motivating mental state. The sensitivity condition, however, comes with a serious challenge in the form of cases where bodily movements are produced by means of causal chains of events that involve intermediate actions performed by another agent.

Keywords:   bodily movement, action, mental state, deviant causal chains, sensitivity condition, intermediate actions

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