Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (2):281-295 (2015)

Lilian O'Brien
University of Helsinki
What is special about successful action explanation is that it reveals what the agent saw in her action. Most contemporary philosophers assume that this amounts to explanation in terms of the reason for which the agent acted. They also assume that such explanations conform to a realist picture of explanation. What is disputed is whether the reason is a psychological state or a normative state of affairs . I argue that neither psychological states nor their contents suffice to make actions intelligible in the right way , while Anti-Psychologism can’t explain acting on bad reasons . The alternative that I propose, Proceduralism, has it that explaining an action requires simulating the agent’s practical deliberation. On this view, explanation is not grounded in reasons, and thereby avoids the problems with “bad” reasons that Anti-Psychologism faces. Instead, in simulating to the same conclusion as the agent, the “explainer” comes to see what the agent saw in her action, thereby satisfying the Reasonableness Constraint. Proceduralism requires giving up on the assumption that the reason for which the agent acts explains the action and on the realist picture of action explanation. In addition, it accounts for the incomprehension that explainers experience when they encounter “alien” psychologies – psychologies that are deeply different from their own
Keywords Action explanation  Simulation  Reasons  Rationalization  Reasons explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-015-9577-5
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Practical Reality.Jonathan Dancy - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.

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