Enakshi Mitra
University of Delhi
This paper seeks to bring out the difference between the later Wittgenstein’s and Davidson’s view of actions with a special focus. Initially it contrasts their respective approaches to the correlative notions of wish, will (intention) and actions, an issue which has customarily been categorized as reason-approach of Wittgenstein as against the mental causation theory endorsed by Davidson. The ultimate aim of this paper is to integrate the ontology of actions with the semantic issue of the distinction between reference and description action-words, or that between the extensionalist and intensionalist approach to actions. The author demonstrates how Davidson in spite of conscientiously problematising the task of separating the mental causal antecedent from the action, goes on to undertake a hair-splitting analysis to sustain the split; and thereby preserve the extensional identity of actions. This extensional identity in Davidson’s scheme turns out to be as brute physical events with bare spatio-temporal outlines - lying beyond the various intensional ascriptions. For Wittgenstein on the other hand, actions are not caused by mental antecedents, but blend with wish, will and the so-called mental antecedents to forge an indissoluble whole, leaving no scope for the proposed bare extension to take shape. The paper concludes with a brief indication of McDowell’s treatment of this cause/reason polemics phrased in terms of the non-conceptualist versus conceptualist debate suggesting a new direction to engage with Wittgenstein’s insights on action.
Keywords mental causation  primary reason  pro-attitude  extension and intension  description  cause and reason  all out unconditional judgement  non-nomological  practical syllogism  holism
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