Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Types of Action

"This duality [between means and end] is peculiar to economic action. It is not present in impulsive actions, for here the distinction between means and end is simply nonexistent. If we take the case of the shouting child, or of an angry man kicking a chair, and try within this act to distinguish means and end, we find no room for such a distinction. It is a misrepresentation of the facts to say that the man kicks the chair as means to work off his anger; if that were true account of the case, it would not be an impulsive act. A man may perhaps say to himself: 'I feel angry; how can I work off this passion? Perhaps kicking a chair would do it; let us try;' but if he did, it would be a case not of impulsive, but of economic action." -- R.G. Collingwood, "Economics as a Philosophical Science," International Journal of Ethics, 1926

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