Action theory is an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing intentional (wilful) human bodily movements of more or less complex kind. In Philosophy, action has developed into a sub-field called Philosophy of action. Philosophy is the study of general problems concerning matters such as existence knowledge truth beauty justice validity mind and language This area of thought has attracted the strong interest of philosophers ever since Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Third Book). Aristotle (Greek Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC was a Greek philosopher a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. Nicomachean Ethics (sometimes spelled "Nichomachean" or Ta Ethika, is a work by Aristotle on Virtue and Moral character which Increasingly, considerations of action theory have been taken up by scholars in the social sciences. The social sciences comprise academic disciplines concerned with the study of the social life of human groups and individuals including Anthropology, Communication studies With the advent of psychology and later neuroscience, many theories of action are now subject to empirical testing. Psychology (from Greek grc ψῡχή psȳkhē, "breath life soul" and grc -λογία -logia) is an Academic and Neuroscience is a field devoted to the scientific study of the nervous system
Basic action theory typically describes action as behaviour caused by an agent in a particular situation. The agent's desires and beliefs (e. g. my wanting a glass of water and believing the clear liquid in the cup in front of me is water) lead to bodily behavior (e. g. reaching over for the glass). In the simple theory (see Donald Davidson), the desire and belief jointly cause the action. Donald Davidson is the name of Donald Davidson (poet (1893–1968 American poet Donald Davidson (philosopher (1917–2003 American philosopher Michael Bratman has raised problems for such a view and argued that we should take the concept of intention as basic and not analyzable into beliefs and desires. Michael E Bratman (born 25 July 1945) is Durfee Professor in the School of Humanities & Sciences and Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University.
In some theories a desire plus a belief about the means of satisfying that desire are always what is behind an action. Agents aim, in acting, to maximize the satisfaction of their desires. Such a theory of prospective rationality underlies much of economics and other social sciences within the more sophisticated framework of Rational Choice. Economics is the social science that studies the production distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The social sciences comprise academic disciplines concerned with the study of the social life of human groups and individuals including Anthropology, Communication studies Rational choice theory, also known as rational action theory, is a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior However, many theories of action argue that rationality extends far beyond calculating the best means to achieve ones ends. For instance, a belief that I ought to do X, in some theories, can directly cause me to do X without my having to want to do X (i. e. have a desire to do X). Rationality, in such theories, also involves responding correctly to the reasons an agent perceives, not just acting on his wants.
While action theorists generally employ the language of causality in their theories of what the nature of action is, the issue of what causal determination comes to has been central to controversies about the nature of free will. Causality (but not causation) denotes a necessary relationship between one event (called cause and another event (called effect) which is the direct consequence The question of free will
Conceptual discussions also revolve around a precise definition of action in philosophy. In Philosophy, action has developed into a sub-field called Philosophy of action. Scholars may disagree on which bodily movements fall under this category, e. g. whether thinking should be analysed as action, and how complex actions involving several steps to be taken and diverse intended consequences are to be summarised or decomposed.
|What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?|
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations §621