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Mental Actions$
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Lucy O'Brien and Matthew Soteriou

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199225989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199225989.001.0001

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Reason, Voluntariness, and Moral Responsibility

Reason, Voluntariness, and Moral Responsibility

(p.95) 5 Reason, Voluntariness, and Moral Responsibility
Mental Actions

Thomas Pink (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the standard ‘voluntariness-based model of action’, according to which actions are performed on the basis of some prior pro-attitude towards performing the action, should be rejected. It argues that the model leads to a view of action that does not adequately accommodate a notion of self-determination capable of capturing our intuitions about moral responsibility. We need instead to accept a ‘practical reason-based theory of action’ according to which intentional action is not any expression of prior motivation, but rather a special mode of exercising rationality in its own right. This practical mode of exercising rationality is found not in voluntary action alone, but also in non-voluntary intention-formation. This view allows for freedom of agency to characterize not just voluntary action based on a prior decision or intention to act, but also the decision or intention itself.

Keywords:   voluntariness, practical reason, moral responsibility, ethical rationalism, self-determination, motivation

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