David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 1 (3):313-325 (1988)
Abstract The thesis that teleological explanations are best understood as causal explanations is defended (contra Valentine). I shift the focus of debate from behavior simpliciter to allegedly rational behavior. Teleological explanation, in the case of rational agents, involves reason?giving; and the reasons agents give for acting must be causative of that action if those agents are to be rational in practice. I argue initially that to abandon the claim that reasons are causes of action is to abandon that which renders many generalisations of systematic human behavior intelligible. I then adduce and defend against two major objections to the secondary thesis that reasons can be causes of action: (1) Experiments in attribution research suggest that agents are characteristically mistaken when reporting on the causes of their behavior; (2) Causal explanation must refer to some law, and reasons cannot enter into such laws as causes of action. In responding to these objections, I note that strict predictability is probably not a reliable indicator of genuine causal explanation; some explanations will afford predictions, others will not.
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References found in this work BETA
Donald Davidson (1980). Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford University Press.
A. Macintyre (1984). After Virtue. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.
Carl Gustav Hempel (1965). Aspects of Scientific Explanation. In Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Free Press 504.
J. L. Mackie (1974). The Cement of the Universe. Oxford,Clarendon Press.
Bernard Williams (1979). Internal and External Reasons. In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press 101-113.
Citations of this work BETA
D. Lynn Holt (1993). Rationality is Hard Work: An Alternative Interpretation of the Disruptive Effects of Thinking About Reasons. Philosophical Psychology 6 (3):251 – 266.
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