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An Argument against the Causal Theory of Action Explanation

Scott R. Sehon
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Vol. 60, No. 1 (Jan., 2000), pp. 67-85
DOI: 10.2307/2653428
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2653428
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
An Argument against the Causal Theory of Action Explanation
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Abstract

It is widely held that belief explanations of action are a species of causal explanation. This paper argues against the causal construal of action explanation. It first defends the claim that unless beliefs are brain states, beliefs cannot causally explain behavior. Second, the paper argues against the view that beliefs are brain states. It follows from these claims that beliefs do not causally explain behavior. An alternative account is then proposed, according to which action explanation is teleological rather than causal, and the paper closes by suggesting that teleological account makes sense of and supports the autonomy of common sense psychology.

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