Explaining Behaviour by Formal Causes : An Account of an Overlooked Model of Explanation and Some Notes Towards a Reassessment of Three Philosophical Problems
Brådd, Emil (2023)
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This thesis examines ways in which an awareness of the logical difference between distinct causal models of explanation can further and transform philosophers’ understanding of problems related to causation, such as the problem of determinism. Since such problems arise in connection with, and logically depend on, specific causal explanatory models, any two models that differ in significant respects from one another will raise different problems. What this entails is that philosophers’ assessments of the scope, validity, and importance of problems related to causation need be informed by a proper awareness of the variety of explanatory models encompassed by our causal language and by an adequate understanding of the relationship of dependence that holds between causal problems and models of explanation. This thesis articulates these insights and puts them into practice in an attempt to open new perspectives on three longstanding problems related to causation: the problem of determinism, the problem of physicalist reductionism, and the problem of whether reason-citing explanations of action are a type of causal explanation or not. These issues arise in connection with efficient-causal accounts of human nature and activity, and the concept of causation that has shaped the discussion of these issues has therefore, as a rule, restricted causation to mean generative relations between antecedent and subsequent events. Here attention is drawn to a different type of causal model that we use to explain certain kinds of mental activity and behaviour – a formal-causal model that logically differs from the efficient-causal models that philosophers have tended to focus on – and the abovementioned problems are reformulated and reassessed from the viewpoint of this model. This involves, among other things, reconnecting the overly intellectualized problem of determinism with our lived experience and identifying misguided intuitions that might partly explain the irresolvable nature of the debate over the causal status of reason-explanations.
- 611 Filosofia