Taking the Agent's Point of View Seriously in Action Explanation

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI:
Taking the Agent's Point of View Seriously in Action Explanation

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“Taking the Agent's Point of View Seriously in Action Explanation” takes the ideas adumbrated in Essay 5 a step further and develops a first‐person normative account of action explanation. The paper takes as its starting point a dispute, in the mid‐20th century, between Carl G. Hempel and William Dray, on historical explanation, and builds an agent‐centered account of understanding actions along the lines indicated by Dray. One corollary of the proposed account is that we can understand the actions of only those agents who are “like ourselves” (in Dray's expression) in that they share with us similar principles of rational action. This result is compared with Davidson's thesis concerning radical interpretation to the effect that we can only interpret those subjects with whom we share most of our beliefs.

Keywords: agent's point of view; ‐person point of view; third‐person stance; causal theory of action; nomological theory of action explanation; normativity; projection; empathetic understanding; radical interpretation

Chapter.  9379 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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