Other links:

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Philosophy of Action

This an upper-division course in which we will discuss theories about individual and group actions. Here are the main questions that will guide this course:

Individual actions: What is an intentional action and how is it different from mere events? What is it to act with an intention? What are intentions? Are they mental states in their own right or can they be reduced to other mental states? Time permitting, we will also talk about weakness of the will.


Collective action: we often perform intentional group actions, like when you and your friend coordinate to carry a heavy couch together. In this case, you and your friend intend to act together. What is the nature of this collective intention? Can it be reduced to individual intentions you and your friend have or is it some mental state over and above them?


Lastly, we will discuss a more recent topic in Philosophy of Action: how do beliefs have to be like to motivate an individual, like me, to act? Orthodoxy holds that having information about oneself from a first-person perspective ( "I am in danger", "I should hide", etc.) is enough to be motivated to act and have a flourishing life in this respect. But some philosophers have been raising doubts over this thesis. We will look closely at how cases of agency motivated by beliefs we have about which groups we identify ourselves with (race, gender, societal role, religious-cultural groupings, etc) offered by Léa Salje can threaten the orthodoxy.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka