Chapter

Purposive Explanation

L. JONATHAN COHEN

in An Essay on Belief and Acceptance

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780198236047
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679179 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198236047.003.0002
Purposive Explanation

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While folk-psychological explanations about human behaviour are commonly believed to be rooted on presenting desires and beliefs to be combined, these in contrast reveal relevant combinations of what a particular person establishes as goals and accepts as his premises. While recognizing this concept aids in the clarifying of the extent to which certain purposes may be attributed to infants and animals, the position is evidently complementary to how programmed artefacts work and to the various aspects of human organizations. As such, we can apply this notion across the prospective reasoning employed in deliberation, persuasion, and prediction, but also in retrospective explanation. This chapter looks into belief and desire in terms of providing purposive explanations for the actions of others.

Keywords: purposive explanation; human behaviour; desires; beliefs; goals; premises

Chapter.  11342 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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