1 Actions as Inner Causes
According to a traditional view of mind-body relations, when a person raises her arm, the rising of her arm is caused by a volition—a mental act of willing, which is the person's (autonomous) contribution to the causal order. In this chapter, I motivate and defend a version of this traditional view; though following O'Shaughnessy (1973 , 1980) and Hornsby (1980), I speak of tryings instead of volitions. When a person (intentionally) moves some part of her body, the motion of her body is an effect of her action, which is an event of trying to do something. This thesis is defensible; and our best semantics of action sentences requires it, I argue, given some strong intuitions about actions.
1 A Puzzle for Davidsonians
My strategy is to show that Davidson's (1967a) event analysis engenders a puzzle, the best resolution of which involves the claim that paradigmatic actions are tryings that cause bodily motions. So let me begin by introducing the event analysis and some apparently conflicting intuitions about actions. 1
1.1
Davidson offers an attractive account of entailments like those among:
(1) Booth shot Lincoln
(2) Booth shot Lincoln with a pistol
(3) Booth shot Lincoln on 13 April 1865
(4) Booth shot Lincoln with a pistol on 13 April 1865.

Sentence (4) entails (2) and (3), both of which entail (1). These facts demand explanation. For simplicity, ignore considerations of tense. Let us also ignore compositionality within adjunct phrases like 'with a pistol',

-18-

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Causing Actions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Causing Actions iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: Actions as Inner Causes 18
  • 2: Fregean Innocence 55
  • 3: From Explanation to Causation 89
  • 4: Other Things Being Equal 117
  • 5: Personal Dualism 147
  • 6: Modal Concerns 179
  • 7: Natural Causes 216
  • Appendix 246
  • References 260
  • Index 271
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