Philosophy of Action Speculations III
Separating actions from behaviors requires some sort of baseline comparison, a determination on what counts as the default bodily state. Here's an argument which might suggest some analysis:
1. Any state of our body which is its default behavioral state is not to be be counted as an action.Premise 2 raises a troublesome issue. Consider when one is asleep. The vast majority of the time when I am asleep, I am not moving. (i) Sometimes I turn over from my left side to my right. But when I do so, I awake for just a second or so, make the adjustment, and then go back to sleep. In this case, I am initiating a short action. (ii) But in dreams, I sometimes turn over too. I those cases I am not awake, so I am not initiating an action. In dreams I have a bodily behavior, but that behavior is not an action, since I form no intention to turn over. (iii) Sometimes I am not awake, and I am not dreaming; I am "dead asleep" as the saying goes. Still, a muscle might twitch, or my diaphragm might go through a single, inhale/exhale respiration cycle. Yet these things too count only as behaviors and not actions -- again, since I form no intention to do such behaviors.
2. A limp body is our default behavioral state.
3. .:. A limp body is not to be counted as an action.
Is that the default state of my body -- what it's doing (the vast majority of the time) when I am asleep? The problem here is that I'm not asleep that vast majority of the time. I'm only asleep (at most) a third of the time of a full 24-hour day. This problem arises for singular parts of our bodies too. Here's a related argument (now supposing I'm awake):
4. Any state of our body which is its default behavioral state is not to be be counted as an action.Premise (5) just considers a part of our body. This ear muscle case is easier than the sleeping case, since in the sleeping case I am forming no intentions at all, but in the ear muscle case I just happen not to be forming intentions (or even thinking about) my ear. Furthermore, the vestigial ear muscle case is uncontroversially accurate as a description of our default bodily state, unlike the sleep state case.
5. A relaxed vestigial ear muscle is in its default state.
6. .:. A relaxed vestigial ear muscle is not to be counted as an action.
Perhaps the error here is thinking that the default state is established merely by how often a body(or body part) is in a state. In addition, the default state should also be assessed as the state of behavior when there is no intention directed upon it. It is important to get clear on the default state issue in order to analyze both 'negative actions' and non-action causal consequences of actions.
 "Human vestigiality" Wikipedia (Accessed Jan. 28, 2010)