Reasons and Purposes: Human Rationality and the Teleological Explanation of Action

By: G. F. Schueler

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People do things for reasons. But philosophers have disagreed sharply about how 'reasons explanations' of actions actually work and hence about their implications for human freedom and autonomy. The dominant view in contemporary philosophy is the (Humean) idea that the beliefs and desires that constitute our reasons for acting simply cause us to act as we do. Fred Schueler seeks to replace such causal views, arguing that they leave out two essential elements of these explanations. Reasons explanations are inherently teleological in the sense that the agent's reasons always explain the purpose for which he acted. They are also inherently normative since it is always possible that an agent's reasons for doing something are not good reasons. Schueler argues that causal accounts of reasons explanations make no sense of either of these features; heargues instead for an account based on practical deliberation, our ability to evaluate the reasons we accept.
Publication Date:
16 / 01 / 2003

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