Three grades of normative involvement: Risjord, Stueber, and Henderson on norms and explanation

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 35 (3):339-352 (2005)
What makes for a good explanation of a person’s actions? Their reasons, or soa natural reply goes. But how do reasons function as part of explanations, that is, within an account of the causes of action? Here philosophers divide concerning the logical relation in which reasons stand to actions. For, tradition holds, reasons evaluatively characterized must be causally inert, inasmuch as the normative features cannot be found in any account of the empirical/descriptive. To countenance reasons as causes thus seems to imply some degree of normative involvement in causal explanation. Mark Risjord opts for full normative involvement while David Henderson insistently denies a role to norms in explanation. Stueber occupies an intermediate position here. I question just whether there exists some "special" problem regarding norms, at least in the form which, I take it, all three of the authors I discuss assume there to be one. Key Words: reasons • causes • norms • rules • explanation.
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