David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 9:143-147 (2006)
Do functional explanations eclipse the intentionality of human actions? Put differently, do intentional and functional explanations of actions conflict with each other? In this paper, I want to argue that both sorts of explanation, if conceived in a proper way, are compatible instruments. First, I will make a distinction between three kinds of explanatory pluralism of actions: a pluralism of theories of actions, a pluralism of sorts of explanations of actions, and a pluralism of methods for the explanation of actions. Intentional and functional explanations are sorts, not theories or methods, of explanation. Next, I will briefly distinguish intentional and functional explanations: intentional explanations refer to the beliefs and desires of an agent, and functional explanations refer to the function of a motive of an action (etiological functions), or to the function of a result of an action (system functions). Finally, I discuss possible conflicts between both sorts of explanation. In cases where real conflicts between functional and intentional explanations do arise, this is due to the lack of sufficient information or the misinterpretation of information of one or both explanations. Hence, such conflicts are not conflicts between sorts of explanations.
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