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

Paperback | August 24, 2005

byG. 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 thatconstitute 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 sinceit 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; he argues instead for an account based on practical deliberation, our ability to evaluate the reasons weaccept.

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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 thatconstitute our reasons for acting simply ca...

G. F. Schueler is in the Department of Philosophy, University of New Mexico.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:187 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.47 inPublished:August 24, 2005Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199278458

ISBN - 13:9780199278459

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Purposes, Causes, and Reasons Explanations1. Purposes2. Reasons and Causes3. Causes and Causal Explanations2. Non Telelogical Explanations of Actions4. The Argument for 'The Humean Theory of Motivation'5. Are 'Causal' Explanations Unavoidable?3. Teleological Explanations of Actions6. The Need for Teleological Explanaations7. Character Traits4. Explaining in Terms of the Agent's Reasoning8. Problems with the Practical Syllogism9. Practical Reasoning and the Explanation of Actions10. Practical Reasoning and Evaluations11. The Principle of Charity5. The Inherently Normative Nature of Action Explanations12. Normative Explanations I: The Deliberative Model13. Normative Explanations II: The Agent's PerspectiveBibliography

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition ... this book sets out to challenge the reader regarding the Humean theory of motivation and to provide alternative viewpoints based on teleological and normative concepts using argument and analogy ... adopting a conceptual stance such as this will not onlyprovide further insight into the human need for occupation, but will also aid in developing strategies that will extend our understanding of people as holistic beings.'Journal of Occupational Science