action theory

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action theory

a general orientation to sociological analysis particularly associated with the work of WEBER and the SYMBOLIC INTERACTIONISTS (see also ETHNOMETHODOLOGY). The aim of the approach is the MEANINGFUL UNDERSTANDING AND EXPLANATION of social reality, which is seen as the outcome of purposive social action. See ACT, ACTION, VERSTEHEN, INTERPRETATIVE SOCIOLOGY.

While all action theorists regard explanation with reference to actors' meanings (purposes, values, etc.) as an essential first step in sociological explanations, this is seen by some (notably P. WINCH, 1958) as removing all possibility of more general explanations. For most sociologists, including Weber, meaningful explanation and other types of EXPLANATION are complementary forms. See also STRUCTURATION THEORY.

Although it is sometimes suggested that action theory is ‘irredeemably individualistic’, this is only so in some cases (e.g. METHODOLOGICAL INDIVIDUALISM).

That the contrary can be true is illustrated by the work of Weber (especially his comparative studies of European and Asiatic religions). Nevertheless, there remain significant differences between ‘action theory’ and other more avowedly STRUCTURALIST approaches in sociological theory, for example in the degree of VOLUNTARISM or independent AGENCY seen for social actors.

References in periodicals archive ?
What Massumi does very well is translate a philosophy of action into epistemological methods.
According to current orthodoxy in the philosophy of action, intentional actions consist in intrinsically mindless bodily movements that stand in causal relations to appropriate mental states.
Volume I is titled From the religion of love to the philosophy of action (1814-1848) and consists of the following: Growing up (1814-1825), Moscow (1836-1840), Germany (1840-1842), A Farewell to Philosophy (1843-1844), and The Birth of a Revolutionary (1844-1848).
Through careful analysis of Out of the Past, The Lady from Shanghai, and Scarlet Street, Pippin argues that film noirs depict a kind of agency that challenges the standard philosophy of action, which he calls the "reflective model.
Instead, Aristotle's philosophy of action is presented as an appropriate background account.
Buckareff have drawn together a fine collection of essays that discuss, defend, and criticize the causal theory of action (CTA) in the context of, and applying it to, a wide range of issues in the philosophy of action, including the nature of intentional action, the causal role of the agent, reasons explanation, autonomy, omissions, developmental psychology, and more.
More specifically, the area of law that largely gave rise to law and bioethics--intentional torts in the law of informed consent and battery--has become muddled in ways that Hauerwas's own critique of bioethics and his earliest work in the philosophy of action indicate.
Segal's position would become in time one of the basic positions in the philosophy of action taught in graduate schools and referred to in the literature.
We will be looking for the bedrock base of his philosophy of action.
We now have a philosophy of action on the fight against climate change to be carried out by the regions, an action plan for post-Kyoto (drafts) and a series of tools and instruments identified as being necessary for their implementation.
Action for the sake of action is the most significant slogan of the BG letting this slogan open for healthy debates over its implication for philosophy of action or ethics of work.
I started the course by introducing students to the history and the philosophy of action research.

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