Whereas the belief-desire model maintains that reasons for action either are or depend on reasons which consist in the agent's own beliefs and desires, I contend that reasons for action, whether taken normatively or explanatorily, are states of affairs. I defend this view by reference to non-deliberative responses to states of affairs agents encounter directly – stopping for a stop sign or answering a knock at the door, for instance–actions which I take to be common, to presuppose no specific attitudes (...) on the part of agents, and to be basic to all action. (shrink)
This is a critical discussion of the argument that since intentions are "logically connected" with their objects, Intentional actions cannot include intentions as their causes. Various versions of the argument are discussed, And it is argued that none of them shows the causal theory of intention to be inconsistent. It is argued that the causal theory is nevertheless wrong since intentions must be understood teleologically and as being, Therefore, Non-Contingently linked with actions.
The main claim of the paper is that there are irreducibly social agents that intentionally perform social actions. It argues, first, that there are social attitudes ascribable to social agents and not to the individuals involved. Second, that social agents, not only individual agents, are capable of what Weber called “subjectively understandable action.” And, third, that although action presumes an agent’s moving her body in various ways, actions do not consist of such movements, and hence not only individual persons but (...) social groups are genuine agents. We should be pluralists about individuation, rejecting both individualism and collectivism by granting that social agency is neither more nor less ultimate, well-founded, or basic than non-social agency. (shrink)
The paper argues that an assessment of individualism requires distinguishing five individualistic claims about the self and society: 1) Philosophical Individualism holds that individuals are distinct from society in their reality and capacity for knowledge; 2) The dignity of the individual is a moral belief about the status of human beings; 3) The ideal of individuality is a value belief about the value of diversity; 4) Moral individualism is a comprehensive moral theory based upon philosophical individualism; 5) Political liberalism is (...) a theory of social justice based on construing human dignity in terms of equal liberty. It is argued that philosophical individualism should be rejected and, hence, moral individualism, that individuality is desirable but not obligatory, and that political liberalism, if it can avoid a tendency toward favoring individualistic conceptions of the good, is necessary for dignity in a modern society. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: Von Wright on Causality Actions, Events, and Intentionality; Results and Consequences Practical Inference and the Logical Connection Argument Two Kinds of Explanation and Their Compatibility and Congruence The Determinants of Action References Further reading.
Michael Bratman’s new book is a very good piece of work. Clearly written, philosophically sophisticated, and admirably fair to contrary points of view, it is worthy of both attentive study and careful critique. Its first sentence, “We are planning agents”, states its theme, which is developed in thirteen previously published papers plus an introduction. The first paper examines the difference between believing a claim and merely accepting it for some reason, while the next two discuss the stability intentions must have (...) to fulfill their function, the main issue being whether it would be reasonable to change an intention even if nothing has changed since we formed it, Bratman’s aim being to articulate principles of rationality which would apply regardless of our ends or conceptions of the good. (shrink)
The reasons-causes debate concerns whether explanations of human behavior in terms of an agent's reasons presuppose causal laws. This paper considers three approaches to this debate: the covering law model which holds that there are causal laws covering both reasons and behavior, the intentionalist approach which denies any role to causal laws, and Donald Davidson's point of view which denies that causal laws connect reasons and behavior, but holds that reasons and behavior must be covered by physical laws if reasons (...) explanations are to be valid. I defend the intentionalist approach against the two causalist approaches and conclude with reflections on the significance of the debate for the social sciences. (shrink)
This Note is a response to Thomas Wallgren’s “Georg Henrik von Wright: a Memorial Notice” (Philosophical Investigations, January, 2005). I contend that Wallgren gave an account of von Wright’s work that is sometimes erroneous and generally off‐key. I offer a more accurate account and defend it against those who view his work with suspicion: analytical philosophers, Wittgensteinians and intellectuals who hoped for a more engaged participation in public life. Wallgren also wrote that von Wright probably had no close friends, which (...) I show to be absurd. (shrink)