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Actions, philosophy: Actions are conscious or unconscious human actions as opposed to physical events. The action can take place against the will of the agent, but only if the opposed will is not strong enough to prevent the execution entirely.

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

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Talcott Parsons on Actions - Dictionary of Arguments

Habermas IV 306
Action/Parsons/Habermas: Like Weber, Parsons proceeds from the categories of "purpose" and "means". He focuses on the most general provisions of the smallest conceivable unit of possible action. (1)
Habermas IV 307
HabermasVsParsons: his concept of action is subjective ("voluntaristic"), which follows from his concept of the situation (see Situation/Parsons). Thus, his theory of action excludes objectivism from concepts of action reformulated in behavioral science.
Taking normative standards into account, according to Parsons, action bridges the gap between the regions of being and should, facts and values, between the conditions of a given situation
Habermas IV 308
and the orientation of the actor determined by values and norms (the ontological dimension: conditions/norms). In doing so, the "effort" that requires an action loses the empirical sense of a striving for gratification: "effort" is here rather „a name for the relating factor between the normative and conditional elements of action. It is necessitated by the fact that norms do not realize themselves automatically but only through action, so far as they are realized at all.“ (2)
HabermasVsParsons: the concept of action as a basic unit does not explain what it means that an actor bases its decisions on values.
Habermas IV 352
Actions/System/Parsons: Action/Luhmann: "The action is a system due to its internal analytical structure". (3)
Habermas: this is about the relations between values, norms, goals and resources.
Action system/Parsons: is composed of subsystems that specialize in the production and maintenance of one component of action at a time:
Culture: on values
Society: on norms
Personality: on goals
Behavioral system: on means or resources. (4)
Habermas IV 353
HabermasVsParsons: with the concept of the action system, the actors disappear as acting subjects; they are abstracted into units to which decisions and thus effects of actions are ascribed. Actors come into view as abstract placeholders, namely as aspects of the organism capable of learning, the motivational balance of a person, the roles and memberships of a social system and the action-determining traditions of a culture.

1.Talcott Parsons, The Structure of Social Action, NY, 1949, S. 43f.
2.Ebenda S. 719.
3.N. Luhmann, T. Parsons: die Zukunft eines Theorieprogramms, Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung 9, 1980, S. 8
4. Talcott Parsons, Some Problems of General Theory in Sociology, in: McKinney, Tiryakan, (1970, S. 44

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

ParCh I
Ch. Parsons
Philosophy of Mathematics in the Twentieth Century: Selected Essays Cambridge 2014

ParTa I
T. Parsons
The Structure of Social Action, Vol. 1 1967

ParTe I
Ter. Parsons
Indeterminate Identity: Metaphysics and Semantics 2000

Ha I
J. Habermas
Der philosophische Diskurs der Moderne Frankfurt 1988

Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. I Frankfurt/M. 1981

Jürgen Habermas
Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns Bd. II Frankfurt/M. 1981

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