The Metaphysics of Complex Actions I: The Dependence of Complex Actions on Basic Acts

Michael S. Moore

in Act and Crime

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199599509
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594656 | DOI:
The Metaphysics of Complex Actions I: The Dependence of Complex Actions on Basic Acts

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The metaphysical question asked in this chapter is preliminary to the metaphysical question addressed in the succeeding chapter 11. In the latter chapter the issue is whether every complex action is (identical with) some basic action of willed bodily movement. In this chapter, the preliminary issue is whether every complex action at least ‘involves’ (in some way or other) some willed bodily movement by the actor. Discussed are three classes of cases: first, cases where there are bodily movements causative of some harm, but these movements are not willed; second, cases where there is no apparent bodily movement but there is agency (in mental acts and in intentional omissions) and there is an apparent causal connection (sometimes reconstrued to be only a relation of counterfactual dependence) between that agency and some real world harm; and third, cases where there is neither willing nor bodily movement, as in states of a person and unintentional omissions. The conclusion reached about all such cases is that there is human action only when there is a willed bodily movement.

Keywords: bodily movements; complex actions; omissions; involuntary movements; mental acts

Chapter.  14298 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

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