Advertisement

Metaphysical Foundations of Action Explanation

  • Ausonio Marras
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 266)

Abstract

As is widely recognized, the publication of Donald Davidson’s “Actions, Reasons, and Causes” in 1963 marked the revival of the causal theory of action and action explanation — a theory which, in one guise or another, has gained wide, albeit not universal, acceptance. 1 According to the causal theory, an intentional action — an action that is performed for a reason (however trivial the reason) — is one that is caused by that reason; and to explain an action by citing the reasons for which it is performed is to give a causal explanation of the action. Whether the reasons that rationalize and cause the action can be fully accounted for in terms of the agent’s prevailing beliefs and desires, or whether other intentional states (such as occurring or sustaining intentions or volitions) must be posited, is still a matter of controversy among various authors;2 but the basic claim that there exists both a conceptual and a causal link between reasons and the actions they rationalize — i.e., that an action’s reasons are its causes — is indeed widely accepted.

Keywords

Causal Explanation Action Explanation Causal Power Mental Property Mental Causation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Antony, Louise (1994), “The Inadequacy of Anomalous Monism as a Realist Theory of Mind” in Gerhard Preyer et al., Language, Mind and Epistemology: On Donald Davidson’s Philosophy. Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 223–253.Google Scholar
  2. Bacon, John (1986), “Supervenience, Necessary Coextensions, and Reducibility’“ Philosophical Studies 49, 163–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baker, Lynn (1993), “Metaphysics and Mental Causation” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 75–95.Google Scholar
  4. Bratman, Michael (1987), Intentions, Plans, and Practical Reason. Cambridge, Harvard U.P.Google Scholar
  5. Burge, Tyler (1979), “Individualism and the Mental,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4, 73–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burge, Tyler (1993), “Mind-Body Causation and Explanatory Practice” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 97–120.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, Donald (1963), “Actions, Reasons and Causes” in Davidson (1980), pp. 3–19.Google Scholar
  8. Davidson, Donald (1969), “The Individuation of Events” in Davidson (1980), pp. 163–180.Google Scholar
  9. Davidson, Donald (1970), “Mental Events” in Davidson (1980), pp. 207–225.Google Scholar
  10. Davidson, Donald (1973), “Freedom to Act” in Davidson (1980), pp. 63–81.Google Scholar
  11. Davidson, Donald (1974), “Psychology as Philosophy” in Davidson (1980), pp. 229–244.Google Scholar
  12. Davidson, Donald (1976), “Hempel on Explaining Action” in Davidson (1980), pp. 261 – 275.Google Scholar
  13. Davidson, Donald (1978), “Intending” in Davidson (1980), pp. 83–102.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, Donald (1971), “Agency” in Davidson (1980), pp. 43–61.Google Scholar
  15. Davidson, Donald (1980), Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford, Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  16. Davidson, Donald (1993), “Thinking Causes” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 3–17.Google Scholar
  17. Dretske, Fred (1989), “Reasons and Causes,” Philosophical Perspectives 3, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dretske, Fred (1990), “Does Meaning Matter?” in E. Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Oxford, Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Fodor, Jerry (1989), “Making Mind Matter More,” Philosophical Topics 17, 59–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fodor, Jerry (1994), The Elm and the Expert. Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Heil, John and Alfred Mele (eds.) (1993), Mental Causation. Oxford, Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  22. Honderich, Ted (1982), “The Argument for Anomalous Monism,” Analysis 42, 59–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Horgan, Terence (1989), “Mental Quausation,” Philosophical Perspectives 3, 47–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Horgan, Terence (1993), “From Supervenience to Superdupervenience: Meeting the Demands of a Material World,” Mind 102, 555–586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kim, J. (1976), “Events as Property Exemplifications” in M. Brand and D. Walton (eds.), Action Theory. Dordrecht, D. Reidel, pp. 159–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kim, Jaegwon (1984a), “Concepts of Supervenience,” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 45, 153–176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kim, Jaegwon (1984b), “Self-Understanding and Rationalizing Explanations,” Philosophia Naturalis 21, 309–320.Google Scholar
  28. Kim, Jaegwon (1989a), “Mechanism, Purpose, and Explanatory Exclusion,” Philosophical Perspectives 3, 77–108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kim, Jaegwon (1989b), “The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism,” Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 63, 3, 31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kim, Jaegwon (1990a), “Supervenience as a Philosophical Concept,” Metaphilosophy 21, 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kim, Jaegwon (1990b), “Explanatory Exclusion and the Problem of Mental Causation” in E. Villanueva (ed.), Information, Semantics, and Epistemology. Oxford, Blackwell, pp. 36–56.Google Scholar
  32. Kim, Jaegwon (1993), “Can Supervenience and Non-Strict Laws Save Anomalous Monism?” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 19–26.Google Scholar
  33. Kim, Jaegwon (1995), “Mental Causation: What? Me Worry?,” Philosophical Issues 6, 123–151.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lepore, Ernest and Barry Loewer (1987), “Mind Matters,” Journal of Philosophy 84, 630–642.Google Scholar
  35. Lepore, Ernest and Brian McLaughlin (eds.) (1985), Actions and Events: Perspectives on the Philosophy of Donald Davidson. Oxford, Blackwell.Google Scholar
  36. Lewis, David (1975), “Causation,” in E. Sosa (ed.), Causation and Conditionals. Oxford, Blackwell, pp. 180–191.Google Scholar
  37. Loar, Brian (1988), “Social Content and Psychological Content” in R.H. Grimm and D. Merrill, (eds.), Contents of Thought. Tucson, Arizona, University of Arizona Press, pp. 99–110.Google Scholar
  38. Loar, Brian (1992), “Elimination versus Non-Reductive Physicalism” in David Charles and Kathleen Lennon (eds.), Reduction, Explanation, and Realism. Oxford, Clarendon Press, pp. 239–263.Google Scholar
  39. Lycan, W.G. (1981), “Psychological Laws,” Philosophical Topics 12, 9–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Marras, Ausonio (1993a), “Psychophysical Supervenience and Nonreductive Materialism,” Synthese 95, 275–304.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Marras, Ausonio (1993b), “Supervenience and Reductionism: an Odd Couple,” Philosophical Quarterly 43,215–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Marras, Ausonio (1994), “Nonreductive Materialism and Mental Causation,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 24, 465–494.Google Scholar
  43. Marras, Ausonio (1997), “The Debate on Mental Causation: Davidson and his Critics,” Dialogue 36, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. McLaughlin, Brian (1989), “Type Epiphenomenalism, Type Dualism, and the Causal Primacy of the Physical, “ Philosophical Perspectives 3, 109–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McLaughlin, Brian (1993), “On Davidson’s Response to the Charge of Epiphenomenalism” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 27–40.Google Scholar
  46. Melden, A.I. (1961), Free Action. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  47. Melnyk, Andrew (1995), Philosophy of Science 62, 370–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Putnam, Hilary (1975), “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’“ in Mind, Language and Reality, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, pp. 215–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sosa, Ernest (1984), “Body-Mind Interaction and Supervenient Causation,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 84, 630–642.Google Scholar
  50. Sosa, Ernest (1993), “Davidson’s Thinking Causes” in Heil and Mele (1993), pp. 41 – 50.Google Scholar
  51. Stoutland, Frederick (1985), “Davidson on Intentional Behavior” in Lepore and McLaughlin (1985).Google Scholar
  52. Tuomela, Raimo (forthcoming 1996 or 1977), Human Action and Its Explanation. Dordrecht and Boston, D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  53. Tuomela, Raimo (forthcoming), “A Defense of Mental Causation,” Philosophical Studies. Google Scholar
  54. Wilson, George (1989), The Intentionality of Human Action. Stanford, Stanford U.P.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ausonio Marras
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western OntarioCanada

Personalised recommendations