The aim of this book is to provide an in-depth account of Hegel’s writings on human action as they relate to contemporary concerns in the hope that it will encourage fruitful dialogue between Hegel scholars and those working in the philosophy of action. During the past two decades, preliminary steps towards such a dialogue were taken, but many paths remain uncharted. The book thus serves as both a summative document of past interaction and a promissory note of things to come. (...) We begin this introduction with some general words regarding the philosophy of action before singling out reasons for exploring Hegel’s thought in relation to it. We next present a brief overview of studies conducted to this day, followed by a thematic appraisal of the contributions appearing in this volume. (shrink)
This paper examines the relation between the various forces which underlie human action and verbal reports about our reasons for acting as we did. I maintain that much of the psychological literature on confabulations rests on a dangerous conflation of the reasons for which people act with a variety of distinct motivational factors. In particular, I argue that subjects frequently give correct answers to questions about the considerations they acted upon while remaining largely unaware of why they take themselves to (...) have such reasons to act. Pari passu, experimental psychologists are wrong to maintain that they have shown our everyday reason talk to be systematically confused. This is significant because our everyday reason-ascriptions affect characterizations of action that are morally and legally relevant. I conclude, more positively, that far from rendering empirical research on confabulations invalid, my account helps to reveal its true insights into human nature. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Doing the Things We Do * The Reasons for which We Act * The Objects of Action Explanation * Things That Move Us to Act * Various Explananda, Various Explanantia * Agents and Their Actions * Causation in Action Individuation.
This paper distinguishes between various different conceptions of behaviour and action before exploring an accompanying variety of distinct things that ‘action explanation’ may plausibly amount to viz. different objectives of action explanation. I argue that a large majority of philosophers are guilty of conflating many of these, consequently offering inadequate accounts of the relation between actions and our reasons for performing them. The paper ends with the suggestion that we would do well to opt for a pluralistic understanding of action (...) and its explanations. (shrink)
This paper argues for a novel interpretation of Hume's account of motivation, according to which beliefs can (alone) motivate action though not by standing as reasons which normatively favour it. It si then suggested that a number of contemporary debates about concerning the nature of reasons for action could benefit from such an approach.
In two recent articles and an earlier book Fred Dretske appeals to a distinction between triggering and structuring causes with the aim of establishing that psychological explanations of behavior differ from non-psychological ones. He concludes that intentional human behavior is triggered by electro-chemical events but structured by representational facts. In this paper I argue that while this underrated causalist position is considerably more persuasive than the standard causalist alternative, Dretske’s account fails to provide us with a coherent analysis of intentional (...) action and its explanation. (shrink)
This paper aims to explore the space of possible particularistic approaches to Philosophy of Science by examining the differences and similarities between Jonathan Dancy’s moral particularism—as expressed in both his earlier writings (e.g., Moral Reasons , 1993), and, more explicitly defended in his book Ethics without Principles (2004)—and Nancy Cartwright’s particularism in the philosophy of science, as defended in her early collection of essays, How the Laws of Physics Lie (1983), and her later book, The Dappled World: A Study of (...) the Boundaries of Science (1999). I shall argue that Dancy’s particularism is more radical, but also more plausible, than Cartwright’s, concluding that we have good reason to embrace a scientific particularism that is far closer to Dancy’s ethical particularism than any view defended by Nancy Cartwright, or any other philosopher from the ‘Stanford school’ of scientific theory. (shrink)
I here respond to James Warren and John Shand's replies to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach.
Recent years have seen a high increase in the teaching of Philosophy in schools. Programs such as Pathways Schools in Australia International Society for Philosophers, since 2003), 'Philosophy in Schools' in the UK (Royal Institute of Philosophy, since 1999), and 'Philosophy for Children' in the USA, Australia, and the UK (International Council for Philosophical Inquiry since 1985 & Society for Advancing Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education since 1993) are spreading around the world. Within a decade of its introduction Philosophy (...) (AS/A2) has become one of the most popular standard subjects taught across UK secondary.. (shrink)
This essay introduces a tension between the public Wittgenstein’s optimism about knowledge of other minds and the private Wittgenstein’s pessimism about understanding others. There are three related reasons which render the tension unproblematic. First, the barriers he sought to destroy were metaphysical ones, whereas those he struggled to overcome were psychological. Second, Wittgenstein’s official view is chiefly about knowledge while the unofficial one is about understanding. Last, Wittgenstein’s official remarks on understanding themselves fall into two distinct categories that don’t match (...) the focus of his unofficial ones. One is comprised of those remarks in the Investigations that challenge the thought that understanding is an inner mental process. The other consists primarily of those passages in PPF and On Certainty concerned with the difficulty of understanding others without immersing oneself into their form of life. In its unofficial counterpart, Wittgenstein focuses on individuals, rather than collectives. The official and the unofficial sets of remarks are united in assuming a distinction between understanding a person and understanding the meaning of their words. If to understand a language is to understand a form of life, then to understand a person is to understand a whole life. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 372 - 392 In this essay I revisit some anti-causalist arguments relating to reason-giving explanations of action put forth by numerous philosophers writing in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s in what Donald Davidson dismissively described as a ‘neo-Wittgensteinian current of small red books’. While chiefly remembered for subscribing to what has come to be called the ‘logical connection’ argument, the positions defended across these volumes are in fact as diverse as they are (...) subtle, united largely by a an anti-scientistic spirit which may reasonably be described as historicist. I argue that while Davidson’s causalist attack was motivated by an important explanatory insight borrowed from Hempel, it caused serious damage to the philosophy of action by effectively brushing over a number of vital distinctions made in the aforementioned works. In seeking to revive these I propose an approach to the theory of action explanation that rescues the anti-causalist baby from the historicist bathwater. (shrink)
This essay discusses Kant and Hegel’s philosophies of action and the place of action within the general structure of their practical philosophy. We begin by briefly noting a few things that both unite and distinguish the two philosophers. In the sections that follow, we consider these and their corollaries in more detail. In so doing, we map their differences against those suggested by more standard readings that treat their accounts of action as less central to their practical philosophy. Section 2 (...) discusses some central Kantian concepts. In Section 3, we take a closer look at the distinction between internal and external action, as found in Kant’s philosophy of morality and legality. In Section 4, we turn to Hegel and his distinctions between abstract right, morality, and ethical life, as well as the location of his account of action within his overall theory of morality. We discuss the distinction between Handlung and Tat, and non-imputable consequences. The overall aims of our essay are to shed light on some puzzles in Kant and Hegel’s conceptions and to examine where their exact disputes lie without taking a stand on which philosophy is ultimately the most satisfactory. (shrink)
This paper documents a conversation between a philosopher and a human computer interaction researcher whose research has been enormously influenced by Wittgenstein. In particular, the in vivo use of categories in the design of communications and AI technologies are discussed, and how this meaning needs to evolve to allow creative design to flourish. The paper will be of interest to anyone concerned with philosophical tools in everyday action.
This paper argues that Hitchcock's so-called 'Freudian' films (esp. Spellbound, Psycho, and Marnie) pay tribute to the cultural magnetism of Freud's ideas whist being critical of the tehories themselves.
This paper focuses on two conflations which frequently appear within the philosophy of history and other fields concerned with action explanation. The first of these, which I call the Conflating View of Reasons, states that the reasons for which we perform actions are reasons why (those events which are) our actions occur. The second, more general conflation, which I call the Conflating View of Action Explanation, states that whatever explains why an agent performed a certain action explains why (that event (...) which was) her action occurred. Both conflations ignore the fact that there are at least two distinct objects that legitimately qualify as objects of action explanation2. As Jennifer Hornsby (1993) has previous suggested, one thing we might wish to explain is ‘why did A do what she did?’ another is, ‘why did the event of her doing it occur?’ -/- I shall argue that when these two views are combined they give rise to a futile debate about explanation in the philosophies of history and the social sciences, and to an almost identical debate in moral psychology and the philosophy of mind. In so doing, I shall also examine a proposed distinction between explaining a phenomenon, and rendering it intelligible. I conclude by distinguishing between four different objects of historical understanding, each of which is to be understood in the light of the aforementioned distinctions between event and thing done, and explanation and intelligibility. (shrink)
The limits of ignorance Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-2 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9571-z Authors Constantine Sandis, Westminster Institute of Education, Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford, OX2 9AT UK Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
This paper explores the role of empathy and detachment in historical explanation by comparing Collingwood and Hume's philosophies of history to Brecht and Stanislavki's theories of theatre. I argue that Collingwood's notion of re-enactment shares much more with Hume and Brecht than it does with Stanislavski. This enables a just medium between rationalistic and empathetic accounts of historical understanding, as recently put forth by Mark Bevir and Karsten Stueber respectively.
This paper uses analogies between Socratic and Wittgenseinian dialogues to argue that analytic philosophy of history should not be abandoned. -/- In their responses to my paper ‘In Defence of Four Socratic Doctrines’ James Warren and John Shand raised a number of important methodological objections, relating to the study of the history of philosophy. I here respond by questioning the supremacy of contextualist history of philosophy over the so-called ‘analytic’ approach. I conclude that the history of ideas had better leave (...) space for both approaches, and that it is a mistake to think of each as being in competition with the other. (shrink)
The anthology contains twenty-two essays and is divided into two parts. The essays are, in the main, critical responses to aspects of what has come to be known in action theory as the ‘Standard View’ – the view that traces back to Donald Davidson's contribution to twentieth-century philosophy of action. The view under criticism treats actions as bodily movements caused in a non-deviant way by belief–desire pairs, construes these belief–desire pairs as the primary reasons for the actions that they cause, (...) and embraces event-causality.The issue of how we should conceive of action is taken up in several essays. For example: in Essay 1, Fred Dretske challenges the view that actions are external events that are the effect of the reasons for which the action is done. In Essay 16, Helen Steward, proposes that, instead of treating the availability of a reason-giving explanation as essential to action, we should construe action as ‘an exercise of the power of bodily control by an animal’. In Essay 21, Jonathan Dancy argues for a deflationary approach to actions, which forgoes treating actions ‘as individuals, with identity conditions’.Other authors – for example, Stephen Everson, Rowland Stout and Maria Alvarez – focus on the issue of what reasons for action are. Are they psychological states, or propositions, or states of affairs? Also under review is how to distinguish different kinds of reason: normative and explanatory reasons, and even explanatory and motivating reasons. (shrink)