Robust Activity, Event-Causation, and Agent-Causation

  • Stefaan E. Cuypers
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 77)


In his presidential APA-address of 1981 Alan Donagan contends that there is no better example of progress in contemporary philosophy than the post-war study of human action. Especially the recently developed causal theory of action (henceforward abbreviated as CTA) is looked upon as an improvement as well as a completion of the classical Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition in the study of human action. In his exposition of the continuity between old and new friends of a causal analysis Donagan does not so much reflect on the causal character as on the semantic character — the intentional or propositional content — of the antecedents of human action. Undoubtedly CTA ameliorates and enriches the semantic aspect of the classical theory of action by an appeal to the techniques of analytical philosophy of language. An adequate quantification theory and especially Gottlob Frege’s theory of indirect reference — needed to perfect and accomplish a theory of action on Aristotelian-Thomistic lines — were, of course, unavailable to philosophers before the 20th century. However, there are reasons to doubt that CTA has brought an equal progress with regard to the causal aspect of the Aristotelian-Thomistic theory of action. In this important respect CTA is, to my mind, rather an example of philosophical decline than of philosophical progress in comparison with the traditional study of human action.


Bodily Movement Active Power Causal Power Prior Event Causal Theory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefaan E. Cuypers
    • 1
  1. 1.Fund of Scientific Research (Flanders), Institute of PhilosophyCatholic University of LeuvenBelgium

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