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Automatic Actions: Challenging Causalism

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  • Ezio Di Nucci

    () (Universitaet Duisburg-Esssen)

Abstract

I argue that so-called automatic actions - routine performances that we successfully and effortlessly complete without thinking such as turning a door handle, downshifting to 4th gear, or lighting up a cigarette-pose a challenge to causalism, because they do not appear to be preceded by the psychological states which, according to the causal theory of action, are necessary for intentional action. I argue that causalism cannot prove that agents are simply unaware of the relevant psychological states when they act automatically, because these content-specific psychological states aren't always necessary to make coherent rational sense of the agent's behaviour. I then dispute other possible grounds for the attribution of these psychological states, such as agents' own self-attributions. In the final section I introduce an alternative to causalism, building on Frankfurt's concept of guidance.

Suggested Citation

  • Ezio Di Nucci, 2011. "Automatic Actions: Challenging Causalism," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 2(48), November.
  • Handle: RePEc:rmm:journl:v:2:y:2011:i:48
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    Keywords

    automatic actions; causalism; agency; Davidson; reasons;

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