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Comparing Perspectives on Cause and Reason in Intentional Action: Elizabeth Anscombe\u27s Intention and Donald Davidson\u27s Actions, Reasons and Causes

By Victoria White Berger


ABSTRACT Comparing Perspectives on Cause and Reason in Intentional Action: Elizabeth Anscombe’s Intention and Donald Davidson’s “Actions, Reasons and Causes” Victoria White Berger As seen in light of Anscombe’s cause and reason in Intention, Davidson’s “Actions, Causes and Reasons”, offered in large measure as a response to Anscombe’s ideas, suggests a philosophical ‘causal’ alternative to her original defense of the priority of reason in actions which she coined as “intentional”. Davidson’s introduction of reason-as-cause in (intentional) action differs in fundamental respects from the intentional action of Anscombe (despite his public admiration for Intention, the ideas of which he puts on a par with Aristotle’s thoughts on action). Herein, we offer general comments regarding Davidson’s approach to cause and reason in action. We briefly review causal theory in Davidson’s and Anscombe’s thought respectively. We compare to various degree thematic inquiries in Anscombe and Davidson: the description/qualification of intentional action; the role of such as belief and desire in intentional action; objects and intentional action; mental cause and practical reason in intentional action; and the linguistic semantics of ‘cause’ and ‘reason’. We close with a defense of Anscombe’s positions on the limited, if even that, role of cause in intentional action. We conclude that Davidson’s summary arguments, while broadening the discussion in the abstract, do not provide sufficient or effective—whether comprehensive or specific— ‘causal’ alternative(s) to Anscombe’s prior assignment of reason as chief in intentional action

Publisher: IRL @ UMSL
Year: 2014
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