Two Dogmas of Contemporary Philosophy of Action

Two Dogmas of Contemporary Philosophy of Action © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/187226307X176758 Journal of the Philosophy of History 1 (2007) 10–24 www.brill.nl/jph Two Dogmas of Contemporary Philosophy of Action Giuseppina D’Oro Keele University, Keele, UK g.d’oro@phil.keele.ac.uk Abstract Davidson’s seminal essay “Actions, Reasons and Causes” brought about a para- digm shift in the theory of action. Before Davidson the consensus was that the fundamental task of a theory of action was to elucidate the concept of action and event explanation. Th e debate concerning the nature of action explanation thus took place primarily in the philosophy of history and social science and was focussed on purely methodological issues. After Davidson it has been assumed that the fundamental challenge for the theory of action is to answer not the con- ceptual question “what does it mean to explain something as an action?”, but a metaphysical question, namely, “how is causal over-determination by the mental and the physical possible?”. I argue that the two main considerations Davidson provides for construing the question posed by the action/event distinction in metaphysical rather than conceptual terms are inconclusive and that much is to be learned from the conceptual approach championed by Collingwood and Dray in the context of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Philosophy of History Brill

Two Dogmas of Contemporary Philosophy of Action

Journal of the Philosophy of History, Volume 1 (1): 10 – Jan 1, 2007

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2007 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1872-261X
eISSN
1872-2636
D.O.I.
10.1163/187226307X176758
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2007 DOI: 10.1163/187226307X176758 Journal of the Philosophy of History 1 (2007) 10–24 www.brill.nl/jph Two Dogmas of Contemporary Philosophy of Action Giuseppina D’Oro Keele University, Keele, UK g.d’oro@phil.keele.ac.uk Abstract Davidson’s seminal essay “Actions, Reasons and Causes” brought about a para- digm shift in the theory of action. Before Davidson the consensus was that the fundamental task of a theory of action was to elucidate the concept of action and event explanation. Th e debate concerning the nature of action explanation thus took place primarily in the philosophy of history and social science and was focussed on purely methodological issues. After Davidson it has been assumed that the fundamental challenge for the theory of action is to answer not the con- ceptual question “what does it mean to explain something as an action?”, but a metaphysical question, namely, “how is causal over-determination by the mental and the physical possible?”. I argue that the two main considerations Davidson provides for construing the question posed by the action/event distinction in metaphysical rather than conceptual terms are inconclusive and that much is to be learned from the conceptual approach championed by Collingwood and Dray in the context of

Journal

Journal of the Philosophy of HistoryBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2007

Keywords: ACTION THEORY; MENTAL CAUSATION; DAVIDSON; CAUSES; COLLINGWOOD; REASONS

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