Wide Content Explanations

  • Ljudevit Hanžek
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 6)


In this paper, the author argues that ascriptions of wide mental content form a part of successful explanations of action. Ascriptions of wide mental content result in wide explanations; ascriptions of narrow mental content result in narrow explanations; descriptions of an agent’s mental states in terms of their physical properties result in physical explanations. In Sect. 2.1, he outlines the central problem of the paper. In Sect. 2.2, he explicates the criteria for evaluating competing explanations, which will be used in resolving the issue. Section 2.3 defines an action-context, a set of elements that are present in every situation in which explanation of action is sought for. Section 2.4 shows, very roughly, what a wide explanation looks like. In Sect. 2.5, the author presents some familiar objections to the very idea of content explanations, whether wide or narrow. He also responds to these objections. Section 2.6 provides reasons for thinking that physical explanations of action are inadequate. Section 2.7 shows that narrow explanations are also not appropriate.


Action Explanation Narrow mental content Physical explanation Wide mental content 


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Ljudevit Hanžek
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of SplitSplitCroatia

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