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Synopsis

Action and Existence addresses a problem in recent analytic (Anscombe, Frankfurt, Donagan, Dretske) and neo-pragmatic (Davidson, Brandom, Habermas) theories of action: their insufficient account of how exactly agents cause actions such that the agents are uniquely responsible for them. These accounts clarify the conceptual resources one needs to define and explain action, but fail to give sufficient explanation as to how persons – rather than a host of impersonal factors – can be ascribed the principal explanatory role in actions.

The monograph elucidates several historical analyses of action  - Aristotelian (Aristotle, Aquinas), German Idealist (Kant, Fichte, Hegel) and existentialist (Heidegger, Maritain, Ricoeur) – that have contributed significantly to contemporary theories of action explanation. The core claim is that action explanation, able to inform responsibility attribution, must include an existential analysis. Existential analysis of action involves both agent causation and the integral role of bodily movement in action.

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