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Dispositional Explanations of Behavior

Rob Vanderbeeken and Erik Weber
Behavior and Philosophy
Vol. 30 (2002), pp. 43-59
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27759437
Page Count: 17
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Dispositional Explanations of Behavior
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Abstract

If dispositions are conceived as properties of systems that refer to possible causal relations, dispositions can be used in singular causal explanations. By means of these dispositional explanations, we can explain behavior B of a system x by (i) referring to a situation of type S that triggered B, given that x has a disposition D to do B in S, or (ii) by referring to a disposition D of x to do B in S, given that x is in a situation of type S. Dispositional explanations are adequate and indispensable explanations: they can explain behavior B without explicitly referring to the underlying causal basis in x that constitutes a disposition to do B. Radical Behaviorist explanations are a sort of dispositional explanations, but the dispositional model is not restricted to these explanations. The dispositional model is compatible with, or can be applied to, several research programs.

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