In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford, UK: (2018)

Sergio Tenenbaum
University of Toronto at Mississauga
Benjamin Wald
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
The problem of deviant causation has been a serious obstacle for causal theories of action. We suggest that attending to the problem of deviant causation reveals two related problems for causal theories. First, it threatens the reductive ambitions of causal theories of intentional action. Second, it suggests that such a theory fails to account for how the agent herself is guided by her reasons. Focusing on the second of these, we argue that the problem of guidance turns out to be related to a number of other issues in the literature on action explanation, and that it is much more general: it threatens not only causal theories but any theory of action. Finally, we suggest that a certain version of the view that acting has a constitutive or formal aim can overcome this problem.
Keywords constitutive aim  Practical reason  Philosophy of action  Action explanation  causal theories of action
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