Understanding People: Normativity and Rationalizing Explanation

Paperback | November 6, 2008

byAlan Millar

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Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. Millar defends a conception according to which normativityis linked to reasons. On this basis he examines the structure of certain normative commitments incurred by having propositional attitudes. Controversially, he argues that ascriptions of beliefs and intentions in and of themselves attribute normative commitments and that this has implications for thepsychology of believing and intending. Indeed, all propositional attitudes of the sort we ascribe to people have a normative dimension, since possessing the concepts that the attitudes implicate is of its very nature commitment-incurring. The ramifications of these views for our understanding ofpeople is explored. Millar offers illuminating discussions of reasons for belief and reasons for action; the explanation of beliefs and actions in terms of the subject's reasons; the idea that simulation has a key role in understanding people; and the limits of explanation in terms of propositionalattitudes. He compares and contrasts the commitments incurred by propositional attitudes with those incurred by participating in practices, arguing that the former should not be assimilated to the latter.Understanding People will be of great interest to most philosophers of mind, as well as to those working on practical and theoretical reasoning.

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Alan Millar examines our understanding of why people think and act as they do. His key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. Millar defends a conception according to which normativityis linked to reasons. On this basis he examin...

Alan Millar is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stirling.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.61 inPublished:November 6, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199556725

ISBN - 13:9780199556724

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction2. Reasons for Belief and for Action3. Normative Commitments and the Very Idea of Normativity4. Explaning Normative Import5. The Reflexivity of Intention and Belief6. Meaning and Intentional Content7. The Problem of Explanatory Relevance8. Rationality and Simulation9. LimitsBiblography

Editorial Reviews

`It is one of the virtues of the book that it brings together a number of related questions from different areas of philosophy that the academic division of labour increasingly forces professional philosophers to address in artificial (and often unhappy) isolation. . . . Millar's approach isprofessional, scholarly, and judicious. The book . . . includes detailed and subtle treatments of a number of issues . . . including the nature of normativity in general, the reflexive character of belief and intention, and the theory versus simulation debate in the philosophy of mind. . .iUnderstanding People/i will be of great interest to most philosophers of mind, as well as to those working on practical and theoretical reasoning. 'Hallvard Lillehammer, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews