Philosophy of Science 70 (4):720-738 (2003)

Merrilee Salmon
University of Pittsburgh
Most discussions of causal explanations of behavior focus on the problem of whether it makes sense to regard reasons as causes of human behavior, whether there can be laws connecting reasons with behavior, and the like. This essay discusses explanations of human behavior that do not appeal to reasons. Such explanations can be found in several areas of the social sciences. Moreover, these explanations are both causal and non-reductionist. Historical linguists, for example, offer causal explanations of changes in how words are pronouncedand linguistic change in generalwithout appealing to human intentions. I use examples from linguistics, anthropology, and evolutionary psychology to discuss the importance of this sort of explanation and to examine its compatibility with recent philosophical accounts of causation.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/378861
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,355
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Idea of History.R. G. COLLINGWOOD - 1946 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):252-253.
Causality and Explanation.Paul Humphreys - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (9):523-527.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Utilitarian Argument Against Torture Interrogation of Terrorists.Jean Maria Arrigo - 2004 - Science and Engineering Ethics 10 (3):543-572.
Explanations of Meaningful Actions.C. Mantzavinos - 2012 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (2):224-238.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Teleological Explanation: A Species of Causal Explanation.D. Lynn Holt - 1988 - Philosophical Psychology 1 (3):313-325.
Non‐Committal Causal Explanations.David Pineda - 2010 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 24 (2):147-170.
Forms of Causal Explanation.Erik Weber, Jeroen Van Bouwel & Robrecht Vanderbeeken - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):437-454.
Explaining Terrorism.Kristin Andrews - 2006 - The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 9:167-171.
The Incredibility of Rejecting Belief-Desire-Action Explanations.Alfred F. MacKay - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:117 - 126.
Mental Events as Structuring Causes of Behavior.Fred Dretske - 1993 - In John Heil & Alfred R. Mele (eds.), Mental Causation. Oxford University Press.
Dispositional Explanations of Behavior.Rob Vanderbeeken & Erik Weber - 2002 - Behavior and Philosophy 30:43 - 59.


Added to PP index

Total views
107 ( #110,861 of 2,519,516 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #407,153 of 2,519,516 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes