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A Social and Environmental Philosophy: Human Action in the Biosphere by Kenneth Wilson

This is the first part of the first section [Action] of Kenneth Wilson’s thesis “A Social and Environmental Philosophy”

As G. H. von Wright comments, “The notion of a human act is related to the notion of an event, i.e. a change in the world.”[1] An action then is a manifestation of the cause-effect relations which constitute what it is to be a human being. What is more, any action is undertaken in relation to some external state of affairs, whether these involve other people, other living entities or processes, or simply the inanimate context.

Von Wright also comments that, “To act is, in a sense, to interfere with “the course of nature.””[2] This quotation clearly points the way to the role of intention. Intention is connected to the concepts of free will and the deliberate choice of some course of action. Therefore the use of the concept as valid is underpinned by a position in the opposition between free will and determinism. While I accept the validity of intention as a concept and thus support the existence of free will, I nevertheless see a role for determined behaviour. Read more