Chapter

Reasons and Causes

Timothy O'Connor

in Persons and Causes

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153743
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199867080 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/019515374X.003.0005
 Reasons and Causes

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A theory of how reasons may explain agent‐causal actions is offered. Contrary to the causal theory of action, there can be an internal, non‐contrastive explanatory link between a prior motivational state and the intention‐in‐action that the agent causes. Davidson's criticisms of noncausal accounts of reasons explanations are considered and rebutted here when directed against the present account. The account is then enriched with a causal notion of ‘structured propensities’ to accommodate the fact that some actions, though undetermined, are more likely than others to be performed. Finally, the restrictivist position of Peter van Inwagen (which maintains that free actions are much rarer than ordinarily supposed) is criticized.

Keywords: causal theory of action; contrastive explanation; Davidson; explanation; intention; propensities; reasons; restrictivism

Chapter.  13641 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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