•  546
    Intentional action and intending: Recent empirical studies
    Philosophical Psychology 18 (6): 737-748. 2005.
    Recent empirical work calls into question the so-called Simple View that an agent who A’s intentionally intends to A. In experimental studies, ordinary speakers frequently assent to claims that, in certain cases, agents who knowingly behave wrongly intentionally bring about the harm they do; yet the speakers tend to deny that it was the intention of those agents to cause the harm. This paper reports two additional studies that at first appear to support the original ones, but argues that in fact…Read more
  •  212
    Volition and basic action
    Philosophical Review 83 (4): 451-473. 1974.
    The purpose of this paper is to defend the view that the bodily actions of men typicaly involve a mental action of voliton or willing, and that such mental acts are, in at least one important sense, the basic actions we perform when we do things like raise an arm, move a finger, or flex a muscle
  •  159
    Responsibility for an action requires what Professor McCann calls an exercise of legitimate agency of the part of an agent, a necessary condition for which is libertarian freedom. Free decisions are to be explained teleologically, not causally. Agent causation cannot account for the existence of a free decision, but neither does event causation account for the existence of determined events. The problem of accounting for the existence of a free decision is therefore of a piece with the problem o…Read more
  •  133
    In these essays, Hugh J. McCann develops a unified perspective on human action. Written over a period of twenty-five years, the essays provide a comprehensive survey of the major topics in contemporary action theory. In four sections, the book addresses the ontology of action ; the foundations of action ; intention, will, and freedom; and practical rationality. McCann works out a compromise between competing perspectives on the individuation of action ; explores the foundations of action and def…Read more
  •  110
    The Simple View again: a brief rejoinder
    Analysis 71 (2): 293-295. 2011.
    In a recent issue of Analysis I gave a critique of some arguments made by Di Nucci concerning the so-called Simple View – the view that an agent performs an action intentionally only if he intends so to act. In turn Di Nucci offers a reply that concentrates on two points. The first has to do with a group of examples, one having to do with waking a flatmate, and the others with routine actions such as shifting gears while driving. I rejected these examples, arguing that it is not at all obvious t…Read more
  •  108
    Divine providence
    Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2008.
  •  105
    Settled objectives and rational constraints
    American Philosophical Quarterly 28 (1): 25-36. 1991.
    Some authors reject what they call the "Simple View"---i.e., the principle that anyone who A's intentionally intends to A. My purpose here is to defend this principle. Rejecting the Simple View, I shall claim, forces us to assign to other mental states the functional role of intention: that of providing settled objectives to guide deliberation and action. A likely result is either that entities will be multiplied, or that the resultant account will invite reassertion of reductionist theories. In…Read more
  •  94
    Di Nucci on the simple view
    Analysis 70 (1): 53-59. 2010.
    (No abstract is available for this citation)
  •  90
    Is Raising One's Arm a Basic Action?
    Journal of Philosophy 69 (9): 235. 1972.
    I hold no view as to what actions are basic, but I shall attempt to show in what follows that actions like raising an arm never are. My contention is that these actions involve actions of physical exertion on the part of the agent, the involvement being of a sort generally taken to be excluded by an actions being basic.
  •  89
    Making decisions
    Philosophical Issues 22 (1): 246-263. 2012.
  •  87
    Divine Sovereignty and the Freedom of the Will
    Faith and Philosophy 12 (4): 582-598. 1995.
    Libertarian treatments of free will face the objection that an uncaused human decision would lack full explanation, and hence violate the principle of sufficient reason. It is argued that this difficulty can be overcome if God, as creator, wills that I decide as I do, since my decision could then be explained in terms of his will, which must be for the best. It is further argued that this view does not make God the author of evil in any damaging sense. Neither does it impugn my freedom. God’s cr…Read more
  •  87
    Mind in Action (review)
    with Bede Rundle
    Philosophical Review 108 (4): 566. 1999.
    To readers familiar with action theory as it was done thirty years ago, this book will strike a familiar chord. It presents an account of action of the sort that typified the ordinary language movement: fundamentally logical-behaviorist in its theory of mind, negatively disposed toward mental acts, anti-causalist in its account of explanation by reasons, and compatibilistic in its view of freedom. The object is to show that the ordinary concept of action is secured at the observational level, an…Read more
  •  85
    The Author of Sin?
    Faith and Philosophy 22 (2): 144-159. 2005.
    Sin
  •  69
  •  54
    Rationality and the Range of Intention
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10 (1): 191-211. 1986.
  •  51
    Intention and Motivational Strength
    Journal of Philosophical Research 20 571-583. 1995.
    One of the principal preoccupations of action theory is with the role of intention in the production of action. It should be expected that this role would be important, since an item of behavior appears to count as action just when there is some respect in which it is intended by the agent. This being the case, an account of the function of intention should provide insight into how human action might differ from other sorts of events, what the foundations of human autonomy may be, etc. But the c…Read more
  •  51
    Intending and planning: A reply to Mele
    Philosophical Studies 55 (1). 1989.
  •  50
    Atheism and Theism
    Philosophical Review 107 (3): 462. 1998.
    In this volume, the sixth in Blackwell's Great Debates in Philosophy series, Smart and Haldane discuss the case for and against religious belief. The debate is unusual in beginning with the negative side. After a short jointly authored introduction, there is a fairly extended presentation of the atheist position by Smart. Haldane then offers an equally extended defense of theism. The authors respond to one another in the same order, and the book concludes with a brief co-authored treatment of an…Read more
  •  50
    Individuating Actions: The Fine—Grained Approach
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (4). 1983.
    When Booth moved his finger, thereby firing a gun, thereby killing Lincoln, did he perform three discrete actions, or were there relations of identity or inclusion among them? Most treatments of this problem have tended to assume there is but one sort of entity properly to be called an action, and hence that one answer to this question must be established to the exclusion of all others. And the favored answer has been that Booth's actions are not discrete, or indeed even overlapping, but identic…Read more
  •  47
    ``Divine Sovereignty and the Freedom of the Will"
    Faith and Philosophy 12 (4): 582-598. 1995.
    Libertarian treatments of free will face the objection that an uncaused human decision would lack full explanation, and hence violate the principle of sufficient reason. It is argued that this difficulty can be overcome if God, as creator, wills that I decide as I do, since my decision could then be explained in terms of his will, which must be for the best. It is further argued that this view does not make God the author of evil in any damaging sense. Neither does it impugn my freedom. God’s cr…Read more
  •  46
    Paralysis and the spring of action
    Philosophia 25 (1-4): 481. 1997.
  •  43
    The Works of Agency: On Human Action, Will, and Freedom
    with Carl Ginet
    Philosophical Review 109 (4): 632. 2000.
    This book comprises eleven essays in the philosophy of action, six of which were previously published. The book has a fairly extensive index. The essays are arranged in four groups. The first group contains two essays on the individuation of action. The second contains four essays that argue for the view that what makes an event an action is, not how it is caused, but that it is, or begins with, a volition, “an intrinsically actional” mental event. The third contains three essays that defend the…Read more
  •  42
    Creation and the Sovereignty of God
    Indiana University Press. 2012.
    Creation and the Sovereignty of God brings fresh insight to a defense of God.
  •  40
    Dretske on the metaphysics of freedom
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (4): 619-630. 1993.
    Contrary to Dretske's view, treating actions as causal complexes wherein inner states produce external results does not permit us to claim that even if their components are caused, the actions are not. What triggers the initial element of a causal sequence causes the sequence itself, so whatever might cause the relevant inner state would also cause the action. Dretske's claim that the failure of my agency to extend to the results of actions I induce in others is owing to the "sensitivity" of tho…Read more
  •  39
    Nominals, facts, and two conceptions of events
    Philosophical Studies 35 (2). 1979.
    According to one view of english nominals, imperfect nominals designate facts, and perfect nominals, events. it is argued here that this is mistaken. of imperfect nominals only "that"-clauses are fact designators; imperfect gerundive nominals are to be classed with perfect nominals as event designators. there are, however, two conceptions of events, arising from two different conceptions of time. the events designated by imperfect gerundives are to be conceived as spread out in time, divisible i…Read more
  •  36
    Sovereignty and freedom: A reply to Rowe
    Faith and Philosophy 18 (1): 110-116. 2001.
    I have defended the view that God’s complete sovereignty over the universe, which requires that he be creatively responsible for our decisions, is compatible with libertarian free will. William Rowe interprets me as holding that this is entirely owing to God’s being timelessly eternal, and argues that God’s decisions as creator would still be determining in a way that destroys freedom. His argument overlooks an important part of my view-an account of creation according to which God’s will as cre…Read more