2008
Paper
Neth, H., & Müller, T.

Thinking by doing and doing by thinking: A taxonomy of actions

Neth, H., & Müller, T. (2008).  Thinking by doing and doing by thinking: A taxonomy of actions.  In V. Sloutsky, B. Love, & K. McRae (Eds.),  Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 993–998).  Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Abstract:  Taking a lead from existing typologies of actions in the philosophical and cognitive science literatures, we present a novel taxonomy of actions.  To promote a notion of epistemic agency we distinguish theoretical (mental state-directed) from practical (world-directed) actions.  Our basic structural unit is that of a teleological frame, which spans one specific goal of an agent.  Relative to a given teleological frame, actions can be classified as focal (directed towards the end) or ancillary (directed towards a means).  The framework is applied to further illuminate previous attempts to distinguish between pragmatic and epistemic actions (Kirsh & Maglio, 1994).  Physical actions that substitute or support mental processes are re-classified as practical ancillary actions that are strategically contingent alternatives to theoretical actions.

Keywords:  Action theory, basic actions, practical vs. theoretical actions, epistemic agency, embodied cognition, complementary strategies, immediate interactive behavior (IIB).