Ways of Behaving

Rowland Stout

in The Inner Life of a Rational Agent

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780748623433
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652501 | DOI:
Ways of Behaving

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This chapter argues that practical rationality is essential to agency. It starts with the claim that action is essentially goal directed and develops the claim that action is essentially norm governed. By employing the distinction between framework causes and input causes established in Chapter 4, it is shown that it is the framework cause of behaviour which must be characterised in terms of goals and in terms of norms. This means that behavioural dispositions – the dispositions which are to be identified with mental states in the author’s approach – must be characterised in terms of goals and norms. In particular, we can say that what it is to be an agent, and hence a subject of mental states, is to be disposed to behave in a way which is sensitive to goals and norms – and hence to practical rationality.

Keywords: practical rationality; agency; action; framework cause; behaviour; goals; norms; behavioural dispositions

Chapter.  8629 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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