I’m trying to find a plausible principle concerning the relationship between voluntary actions and knowledge. There are three candidates:
(A) If S φs voluntarily, then S knew the relevant facts concerning φ-ing.
(B) If S φs voluntarily, then S would φ if S knew the relevant facts about φ-ing.
(C) If S would φ if S knew the relevant facts about φ-ing, then S φs voluntarily.
First, I thought that (A) is not correct, and thus should be revised as (B). (But now I’m not sure) The counterexample that I thought is the following:
Jack went to the zoo. He saw a building and was wondering what were inside. Thinking that there might be something interesting, he entered the building. But it turned out that the building displayed various kinds of snakes. Since Jack had been scared of snakes, he went out immediately and said, “I would never have entered the building if I had known that the snakes were inside.”
Let ‘φ’ be ‘entering the building’ and ‘p’ be ‘the snakes are around the building.’ It seems that Jack entered the building voluntarily, but he did not know that the snakes were around in the building. (Jack φs voluntarily, but did not know that p)
Someone pointed out that p is not a relevant fact for φ-ing, though. His point was: “let ‘ψ’ be ‘entering the snake house.’ P is a relevant fact for ψ-ing, but not a relevant fact for φ-ing. Thus, the above example is no good: Jack φs voluntarily, but p is not a relevant fact for φ-ing; p is a relevant fact for ψ-ing, but Jack does not ψ voluntarily.”
This objection makes me wonder: “Are φ and ψ are two different actions? Or, are they just different descriptions of one and the same action?” One may think that they are two different actions, and says: “We do not want to say that Oedipus killed his father voluntarily although we want to say that he voluntarily killed the obnoxious old man on the road. Oedipus’s killing his father and his killing the obnoxious old man must be two different actions, because if they are one and the same action, how could one action be voluntary and involuntary at the same time? In the same manner, φ and ψ are two different actions.”
However, it seems to me, intuitively, that φ and ψ are one and the same action. We’re just describing one action differently. About the Oedipus case, I think that it is okay to say that Oedipus killed his father voluntarily. Of course, he would not have killed the old man if he had known that the old man was his father. But still, at the time of killing, he was acting at his own will. Similarly, I think it is okay to say that Jack went to the snake house voluntarily.
So the question is this: let’s say that φ and ψ are one and the same action. Is p a relevant fact for that
action (no matter how we describe it - i.e. whether we describe it as φ or as ψ)? (Similarly, in Oedipus case, is the fact that the old man was Oedipus’s father relevant for his action of killing (no matter how we describe it)?) Why or why not?