Reasons explanations of actions: Causal, singular, and situational

Davidson held that the explanation of action in terms of reasons was a form of causal explanation. He challenged anti-causalists to identify a non-causal relation underlying reasons---explanation which could distinguish between merely having a reason and that reason being the one for which one acts. George Wilson attempts to meet Davidson’s challenge, but the relation he identifies can serve only in explanations of general facts, whereas reasons explanation is often of particular acts. This suggests that the relation underlying reasons explanation is not only causal, but singular as well. A further proposal, extracted from Fred Dretske’s views, characterizes this singular causal relation in terms of non-mental triggers. But this suggestion underestimates the explanatory role of the environment at the time of action, and shares with Wilson’s proposal the inability to account for the rationalization of particular acts. A situational environmentalist conception of reasons explanation, however, does not face these difficulties
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI 10.2307/2653560
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