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Reasons as Causes For Action

  • George Wilson
Chapter
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 266)

Abstract

In most summary accounts of the theory of action, a section is devoted to “The Reasons vs. Causes Debate.” Thus advertised, the topic will sound to the neophyte as if it were constituted by some mighty conceptual struggle, with well-defined forces lining up on either side, a philosophical analogue to “The Frazier vs. Ali Fight” or “The 1955 World Series.” Of course, there are initial advantages to structuring the issues of the field under vivid headings, but I have come to believe that the long term disadvantages, in the present case, are weightier. We give the impression that our understanding of the nature of the problems is relatively sharp and that nothing is left but a matter of working out details that will point toward a satisfactory solution. The more I contemplate the reasons vs. causes debate, the less confident I am that our questions have been well-drawn. In this essay, I will explain some of the more significant doubts I feel about recent discussions of the subject (including my own)1 and will indicate some of the areas that are likely to require extensive clarification if substantial progress is to be achieved. In most instances, I will have space only to sketch the pertinent concerns and to adumbrate the perspective on them that I favor.

Keywords

Reason Explanation Causal Explanation Counterfactual Dependence Causal History Conceptual Truth 
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.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Wilson
    • 1
  1. 1.Johns Hopkins UniversityUSA

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