Dispositions and Rational Explanation

In Jason Bridges Niko Kolodny & Wai-Hung Wong (eds.), The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding: Reflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud. Oxford University Press (2011)
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Abstract

Some philosophers hold that rational explanations­—explanations of people’s attitudes and actions that cite their reasons for forming these attitudes or performing these actions—are dispositional. The hold that rational explanations do their explanatory work by representing these attitudes and actions as the product of dispositions on the part of the subject. I challenge arguments to this effect by Barry Stroud and Michael Smith. And I argue that human beings do not possess, and could not possess, the dispositions required for the dispositionalist account. I propose an alternative account of rational explanation, one that exploits the connection between rational explanations and rational deliberation to show how such explanations can be simultaneously normative and causal.

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Jason Bridges
University of Chicago

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