Archivos para 26 septiembre 2012

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The Functions of Intentional Explanations of Actions

Erik Weber and Robrecht Vanderbeeken

The Functions of Intentional Explanations of Actions

En: Behavior and Philosophy, 55, 1 -16 (2005).  Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.


“This paper deals with the functions of intentional explanations of actions (IEAs), i.e., explanations that refer to intentional states (beliefs, desires, etc.) of the agent. IEAs can have different formats. We consider these different formats to be instruments that enable the explainer to capture different kinds of information. We pick out two specific formats, i.e. contrastive and descriptive, which will enable us to discuss the functions of IEAs. In many cases the explanation is contrastive, i.e. it makes use of one or more contrasts between real intentional states and ideal intentional states (ideal from the point of view of the explainer). In many other cases IEAs have a descriptive (covering-law) format. The aim of this paper is to analyze the fiinctions the two kinds of explanations can have. We will show that certain functions are better served by one rather than the other format. This leads to pluralism with respect to formats. We argue that both formats are necessary and that their functions are complementary.”

Models of Intentional Explanation

Robrecht Vanderbeeken

Models of Intentional Explanation

En: Philosophical Explorations, Vol. 7, No 3, 2004. Ed. Routledge.


“The controversy about intentional explanation of action concerns how these explanations work. What kind of model allows us to capture the dependency or relevance relation between the explanans, i.e. the beliefs and desires of the agent, and the explanandum, i.e. the action? In this paper, I argue that the causal mechanical model can do the job. Causal mechanical intentional explanations consist in a reference to the mechanisms of practical reasoning of the agent that motivated the agent to act, i.e. to a causally relevant set of beliefs and desires. Moreover, the causal mechanical model can provide in efficient and unproblematic applications, unlike action explanations using ceteris paribus laws or counterfactuals. The drawback of the latter models of explanation is their modal requirement: the explanans must mention or implies sufficient and/or necessary conditions for the explanandum. Such a requirement is too strong when it comes to intentional explanation of action.”

What is the Content of an Intention in Action?

John McDowell

What is the content of an intention in action?

En: Ratio (new series) XXIII, 4 December, 2010. Ed. Blackwell.


“On the view proposed, the content of an intention in action is given by what one would say in expressing it, and the proper form for expressing such an intention is a statement about what one is doing: e.g. ‘I am doing such-and-such’. By contrast, some think that there are normative or evaluative elements to the content of an intention in action which would be left out of a form that merely stated facts. They think that the appropriate way to express such an intention is a statement about what one should be doing. Davidson, for example, thinks that the statement must essentially be a verdict: that doing such-and-such is all-out desirable. But this is to assume that practical reason is reasoning towards the truth of a proposition, the very mistake which obscures its ‘true character’, as Anscombe correctly points out. Moreover, although Davidson’s view helps him account for the possibility of weakness of will, his explanation of the phenomenon is strained and inferior by contrast with the account which the proposed view makes available. The proposed view fits into a broader picture in which intentional action is the exercise of a practical conceptual capacity.”

Reasons for Action and Practical Reasoning

Maria Alvarez

Reason for Action and Practical Reasoning

En: Ratio (new series) XXIII, 4 December, 2010. Ed. Blackwell.


“This paper seeks a better understanding of the elements of practical reasoning: premises and conclusion. It argues that the premises of practical reasoning do not normally include statements such as ‘I want to φ’; that the reasoning in practical reasoning is the same as in theoretical reasoning and that what makes it practical is, first, that the point of the relevant reasoning is given by the goal that the reasoner seeks to realize by means of that reasoning and the subsequent action; second, that the premises of such reasoning show the goodness of the action to be undertaken; third, that the conclusions of such reasoning may be actions or decisions, that can be accompanied by expressions of intention, either in action, or for the future; and that these are justified, and might be contradicted, in ways that are not only peculiar to them (i.e. in ways that diverge from those found in theoretical reasoning), but are distinctively practical, in that they involve reference to reasons for acting and to expressions of intention, respectively.”

Articulating Reasons: An introduction to Inferentialism

Robert B. Brandom

Articulating Reasons

Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2000.


1. Semantic Inferentialism and Logical Expressivism 

2. Action, Norms, and Practical Reasoning 

3. Insights and Blindspots of Reliabilism 

4. What Are Singular Terms, and Why Are There Any? 

5. A Social Route from Reasoning to Representing 

6. Objectivity and the Normative Fine Structure of Rationality


G.E.M. Anscombe


Harvard University Press, Cambridge – Massachusetts, London. 2000, Second Edition.