Other Kinds of Actions

  • Daniel González Lagier
Part of the Law and Philosophy Library book series (LAPS, volume 67)


The previous chapters have offered some tools for a better understanding of the concept of action. On the one hand, we have encountered three senses of the term ‘action’ (basic act, result-act, and consequence-act), and we have seen that each one of them refers to one of the dimensions actually present in an action. From that perspective, actions are a complex phenomenon that cannot adequately be reconstructed if one of these dimensions (the natural, the subjective, and the objective) is ignored. On the other hand, we have analyzed five elements to be found in many cases of action (bodily movements, changes in the world, a link between the two, intention, and interpretation). To complete the presentation, in this chapter I will use these tools to formulate a few brief observations about two particular kinds of actions, to wit, institutional actions and omissions.


Bodily Movement Natural Action Institutional Fact Positive Action Constitutive Rule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 1.
    Searle 1969, pp. 50 f.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ibid., p. 51.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cf. Chapter V, sect. 5.2, and Chapter VII, sect. 4.2.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Searle 1969, p. 52.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    When we say that a crime is intentional, what we actually want to say is that the natural action giving rise to the crime is intentional, not that there was an intention to bring about a crime.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cf. Chapter I, sect. 2.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Cf, e. g., Nino 1987, p. 96.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Von Wright 1963a, p. 46.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Von Wright 1983b, pp. 109 f.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    On this point in Mackie, cf. Nino 1987, p. 115.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    On this conception of omission in criminal law and a critique, cf. Rodríguez Mourullo 1966, pp. 20 ff.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Someone might say that though the absence of a bodily movement is a natural phenomenon, the interpretation of such an absence as an omission is not; but the same applies to actions: giving an interpretation or meaning to a bodily movement (or to the absence of a bodily movement) is a fact that occurs in the social world.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    That kind of omission raises the problem of whether, in the words of George Fletcher, „crimes defined by action verbs such as killing, burning, maiming, assaulting and raping can be committed by people who stand and let events run their course“ (Fletcher 1998, p. 46).Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Garzón Valdés 1986, p. 27.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    That does not mean, however, that consciousness is not a requirement for the assessment of an omission as blameworthy. In fact, the question whether omissions must necessarily be voluntary is entirely parallel to the question whether actions must be voluntary. Perhaps it is convenient to distinguish between omissions and something like ‘reflex omissions’, in the same way as we distinguish between actions and ‘reflex acts’.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    On the notion of ‘technical rule’, cf. von Wright 1963a, pp. 9 ff.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Cf. Gimbernat Ordeig 1989, p. 579.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel González Lagier
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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