In response to my critics, I highlight areas of agreement and disagreement. I also argue that my view is better suited than narrativism to account for the difficulties that we encounter in trying to understand other agents. Moreover, the points brought up by Gallagher and Hutto do not succeed in showing that our understanding of an agent’s reasons for acting proceeds independently from reenactive empathy.
Abstract This essay will argue systematically and from a historical perspective that there is something to be said for the traditional claim that the human and natural sciences are distinct epistemic practices. Yet, in light of recent developments in contemporary philosophy of science, one has to be rather careful in utilizing the distinction between understanding and explanation for this purpose. One can only recognize the epistemic distinctiveness of the human sciences by recognizing the epistemic centrality of reenactive empathy for our (...) understanding of rational agency, that is, by emphasizing the psychological component in the concept of understanding that nineteenth-century philosophers like Droysen, in contrast to twentieth-century hermeneutic philosophers, still acknowledged. In addition, the essay will show in detail that merely pointing to the fact that narratives have a cognitive function in the domain of the human sciences, as is common among philosophers of history, does not provide us with a sufficient demarcation criterion for distinguishing between the human and natural sciences. (shrink)
This article will defend the centrality of empathy and simulation for our understanding of individual agency within the conceptual framework of folk psychology. It will situate this defense in the context of recent developments in the theory of mind debate. Moreover, the article will critically discuss narrativist conceptions of social cognition that conceive of themselves as alternatives to both simulation and theory theory.
This essay develops a new account of the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Imaginative resistance is best conceived of as a limited phenomenon. It occurs when we try to engage imaginatively with different moral worlds that are insufficiently articulated so that they do not allow us either to quarantine our imaginative engagement from our normal moral attitudes or to agree with the expressed moral judgment from the perspective of moral deliberation. Imaginative resistance thus reveals the central epistemic importance that empathy plays (...) for our understanding of rational agents in a context where we try to make sense of the moral appropriateness of their reasons for acting. Reflecting on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance allows us to recognize important features of the relationship between imaginative perspective taking and ordinary moral deliberation. (shrink)
Participants in the debate about the nature of folk psychology tend to share one fundamental assumption: that its primary purpose consists in the prediction and explanation of another person's behavior. The following essay will evaluate recent challenges to this assumption by philosophers such as Joshua Knobe who insist that folk psychology and its concepts are intimately linked to our ethical concerns. I will show how conceiving of folk psychology in an engaged manner enables one to account for the evidence cited (...) in favor of an ethical interpretation of folk psychology, without undermining the claim that it is primarily an explanatory practice. Nevertheless, I will suggest that the basic cognitive stance of folk psychology has ethical implications that have been insufficiently noted in the contemporary context. (shrink)
It has become something of a consensus among philosophers of history that historians, in contrast to natural scientists, explain in a narrative fashion. Unfortunately, philosophers of history have not said much about how it is that narratives have explanatory power. they do, however, maintain that a narrative’s explanatory power is sui generis and independent of our empathetic or reenactive capacities and of our knowledge of law-like generalizations. In this article I will show that this consensus is mistaken at least in (...) respect to explanatory strategies used to account for rational agency using the “folk-psychological” framework of intentions, beliefs, desires, and the like. philosophers distinguish insufficiently among different aspects and different types of information needed for a historian to persuasively account for an agent’s behavior in particular circumstances. If one keeps these aspects apart it will become apparent exactly how one should understand the epistemic contribution of empathy, generalizations, and narrative for the explanation of action. (shrink)
Anti-realists like Paul Roth conceive of historical narratives as having no genuine explanatory power, because historical events are not ready-made and reveal themselves only to the retrospective gaze of the historian. For that reason, the categories with the help of which historians identify historical events do not map onto categories of general theories of the world required for a genuine explanation of them. While I agree with Paul Roth that the significance of a historical event is revealed only retrospectively, I (...) argue that this does not imply that historical narratives do not provide genuine explanations. In this context, it is however important to distinguish between the description used by historians to identify the event as being part of the narrative and the description under which the occurrence of the very same event could be causally explained within the narrative. Both types of descriptions possess a certain degree of conceptual independence from each other. I argue that historical narratives incorporate both dimensions: what I also call the view from and with the view from below. Historical narratives do explain, even though they differ from scientific theories. (shrink)
s argument for the claim that social relations have to be conceived of as primary and main ontological category for an adequate analysis of the social realm. The author shows that Kings arguments do not succeed in fully replacing the categories of agency and structure that are pervasive in contemporary social theory. At most, King succeeds in delineating a neglected area of social theory, something that should be taken into account in addition to structure and agency. Key Words: (...) social ontology rules agency structure hermeneutics. (shrink)
This article will discuss the difficulties of providing a plausible account of rule following in the social realm. It will show that the cognitive model of rule following is not suited for this task. Nevertheless, revealing the inadequacy of the cognitive model does not justify the wholesale dismissal of understanding human practices as rule-following practices, as social theorists like Bourdieu or Dreyfus have argued. Instead it will be shown that rule-following behavior is best understood as being based on a set (...) of complex dispositions. In this manner one is able to account for the causal explanatory role of the notion of a rule. Key Words: rules norms explanation Bourdieu Winch. (shrink)
In this paper I will discuss Kims powerful explanatory exclusion argument against the causal efficacy of mental properties. Baker and Burge misconstrue Kims challenge if they understand it as being based on a purely metaphysical understanding of causation that has no grounding in an epistemological analysis of our successful scientific practices. As I will show, the emphasis on explanatory practices can only be effective in answering Kim if it is understood as being part of the dual-explanandum strategy. Furthermore, a fundamental (...) problem of the contemporary debate about mental causation consists in the fact that all sides take very different examples to be paradigmatic for the relation between psychological and neurobiological explanations. Even if we should expect some alignment in the explanatory scope of neurobiology and psychology/folk-psychology, there is no reason to expect that all mental explanations are exempted by physical explanations, since they do not in general explain the same phenomena. (shrink)
In this article I will challenge a received orthodoxy in the philosophy of social science by showing that Collingwood was right in insisting that reenactment is epistemically central for historical explanations of individual agency. Situating Collingwood within the context of the debate between simulation theory and what has come to be called “theory theory” in contemporary philosophy of mind and psychology, I will develop two systematic arguments that attempt to show the essential importance of reenactment for our understanding of rational (...) agency. I will furthermore show that Gadamer’s influential critique of the reenactment model distinguishes insufficiently between the interpretation of certain types of texts and the explanation of individual actions. In providing an account of individual agency, we are committed to a realistic understanding of our ordinary scheme of actionexplanations and have thus to recognize the centrality of reenactment. Nevertheless, Collingwood’s emphasis on reenactment is certainly one-sided. I will demonstrate its limitations even for accounting for individual agency, and show how it has to be supplemented by various theoretical considerations, by analyzing the different explanatory strategies that Christopher Browning and Daniel Goldhagen use to explain the behavior of the ordinary men in Reserve Battalion 101 during World War II. (shrink)
This article develops a constitutive account of self-knowledgethat is able to avoid certain shortcomings of the standard response to the perceived prima facieincompatibility between privileged self-knowledge and externalism. It argues that ifone conceives of linguistic action as voluntary behavior in a minimal sense, one cannot conceive ofbelief content to be externalistically constituted without simultaneously assuming that the agent hasknowledge of his beliefs. Accepting such a constitutive account of self-knowledge does not, however,preclude the conceptual possibility of being mistaken about ones mental (...) states. Rather, self-knowledgehas to be seen as only a general constraint or as the default assumption of interpreting somebodyas a rational and intentional agent. This is compatible with the diagnosis of a localized lack of self-transparency. (shrink)