Reason explanation in folk psychology

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 31 (1):90–106 (2007)

Joshua Knobe
Yale University
Consider the following explanation: (1) George took his umbrella because it was just about to rain. This is an explanation of a quite distinctive sort. It is profoundly different from the sort of explanation we might use to explain, say, the movements of a bouncing ball or the gradual rise of the tide on a beach. Unlike these other types of explanations, it explains an agent’s behavior by describing the agent’s own _reasons_ for performing that behavior. Explanations that work in this way have a number of distinctive and important properties, and we will refer to them here as _reason explanations_. Looking at the use of reason explanations with a philosophical eye, one is apt to experience a certain puzzlement. One wants to know precisely what makes a given reason explanation true or false. So, for example, the explanation given above seems to be saying that George’s reason for taking his umbrella was that it was just about to rain. But what exactly makes it the case that this is George’s reason? Does he have to actually be.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1475-4975.2007.00146.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 45,662
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Practical Reality.Jonathan Dancy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Motivation and Agency.Alfred R. Mele - 2003 - Oxford University Press.

View all 29 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Person as Scientist, Person as Moralist.Joshua Knobe - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):315.
The Pervasive Impact of Moral Judgment.Dean Pettit & Joshua Knobe - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (5):586-604.
The Epistemic Side-Effect Effect.James R. Beebe & Wesley Buckwalter - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (4):474-498.

View all 47 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Right and Wrong Reasons in Folk‐Psychological Explanation.George Botterill - 2009 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (4):463 – 488.
Reason Explanation a First-Order Rationalizing Account.Neil C. Manson - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (2):113 – 129.
A New Story About Folk Psychology.Leon C. de Bruin - 2008 - Philosophical Explorations 11 (3):263 – 271.
Internalising Practical Reasons.Rowland Stout - 2004 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104 (3):229–243.
Is Folk Psychology Different?Jonathan Knowles - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (2):199-230.
Teleological Explanation: A Species of Causal Explanation.D. Lynn Holt - 1988 - Philosophical Psychology 1 (3):313-325.


Added to PP index

Total views
163 ( #48,926 of 2,280,723 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #316,679 of 2,280,723 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature