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(2018) Human action, economics, and ethics, Dordrecht, Springer.

Toward a general theory of action

Javier Aranzadi

pp. 9-12

All social sciences have the person as their object of study. Here we should highlight the pioneering work by a team lead by T. Parsons and E.S. Shills (Towards a general theory of action, Harper & Row, New York, 1962). The main thesis of Toward a General Theory of Action is that humans strive to achieve goals. In seeking goals an actor is oriented towards objects and this orientation is taken to comprise three modes: cognitive, cathectic (desiderative) and evaluative. That is, the theory of action is structured in three parts: desiderative, cognitive and evaluative, representing an order between themselves. These three constituent parts define a system of action. The individual inserted into a society with a culture generates action. Parsons' theory integrates the three explicative elements in a system. Parsons' text points to the possible existence of an integrative or systemic moral or ethical system to control the various parts of the structure constituting action.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-73912-0_3

Full citation:

Aranzadi, J. (2018). Toward a general theory of action, in Human action, economics, and ethics, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 9-12.

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