No strings attached: Functional and intentional action explanations

Philosophy of Science 66 (3):313 (1999)
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Functional explanation in the social sciences is the focal point for conflict between individualistic and social modes of explanation. While the agent thought she was acting for reasons, the functional explanation seems to reveal the hidden strings of the puppet master. This essay argues that the conflict is merely apparent. The erotetic model of explanation is used to analyze the forms of intentional action and functional explanations. Two explanations conflict if either the presuppositions of their respective why-questions conflict or the typical answers identified by their relevance criteria conflict. While a functional explanation may have the same topic and foil as an intentional action explanation, both the why-questions and their typical answers are compatible



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Mark Risjord
Emory University

Citations of this work

Context in Mechanism-Based Explanation.Gianluca Pozzoni & Tuukka Kaidesoja - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (6):523-554.
Explanatory exclusion history and social science.Mark Day - 2004 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (1):20-37.

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References found in this work

Functional analysis.Robert E. Cummins - 1975 - Journal of Philosophy 72 (November):741-64.
Why-Questions.Sylvain Bromberger - 1966 - In Robert G. Colodny (ed.), Mind and Cosmos -- Essays in Contemporary Science and Philosophy. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 86--111.

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