By Andrew Sneddon (auth.)

What makes an occasion count number as an motion? normal solutions entice the way the development was once produced: e.g., possibly an arm move is an motion while because of psychological states (in specific ways), yet now not while brought on in alternative ways. Andrew Sneddon argues that this sort of resolution, which he calls "productionism", is methodologically and considerably unsuitable. particularly, productionist solutions to this query are usually both individualistic or foundationalist, or either, with out particular defence. as a substitute, Sneddon deals an externalist, anti-foundationalist account of what makes an occasion count number as an motion, which he calls neo-ascriptivism, after the paintings of H.L.A. Hart. particularly, Sneddon argues that our practices of attributing ethical accountability to one another are a minimum of partially constitutive of occasions as actions.

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It is clear that ascribing an action to a person does not suffice to ascribe moral responsibility to the person for that action. Excusing considerations can make this inappropriate: ‘She did X, but it is not her fault because . ’ Nor is the possibility of 28 CHAPTER 2 ascribing responsibility for an action to a person sufficient to ascribe that action to the person in question. One may be morally responsible for the actions of someone else. For instance, parents might be, to some degree, morally responsible for the actions of their children.

40 Atwell contends that the action is not X’s, but the above reflections show that it can be, in an unobjectionable sense. Atwell has completely missed the possibility that actions might be shared, along with responsibility. T. Geach presents an important objection in his ‘Ascriptivism’. ’41 There are two problems with this characterization of the position. Firstly, Hart does not deny that action sentences have a descriptive use; he just makes the ascriptive function of such sentences primary. Second, this in no way precludes there being a causal relationship between agent and action, nor talk of such a relation.

His point can still be accepted so long as we apply it in a descriptive fashion sensitive to the contingencies of the production of action. Besides all of this, there is another interesting theme in Feinberg that is clearly in keeping with the general ascriptivist view of actions. When we emphasize this theme, action turns out, in part, to be a social phenomenon: which events count as 55 56 Feinberg, ‘Action and Responsibility’, p. 146. I am not alone in thinking this way, so let me rely on the word of others as a way of having my promissory note taken seriously: Annette Baier made this point a long time ago, noting that special basicness is not implied a priori by the meaning of ‘is composed of’ (‘The Search for Basic Actions’, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol.

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