Intentional agency and acting for reasons

Erasmus Mayr

in Understanding Human Agency

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606214
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731631 | DOI:
Intentional agency and acting for reasons

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This chapter adresses the question how the agent-causalist account of agency developed so far can explain intentional agency and acting for reasons. Most contemporary philosophers of action believe that the reason for which an agent acts must be causally efficacious in producing his action. The main argument for this view is that this is the only way to meet Davidson's Challenge, of how to distinguish the reason on which the agent acts from other reasons he has at the time of his action and which would also rationalize his action, but on which he does not act. It is shown that Davidson's own event-causalist answer to his Challenge does not work, which means that a non-causal explanation of acting for a reason is needed. Some non-causalist proposals, by G.H. von Wright, Carl Ginet and Scott Sehon, are discussed, but turn out to not to be fully successful.

Keywords: reasons; intentional agency; Davidson; Davidson's Challenge; von Wright; Sehon; intentions

Chapter.  10382 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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