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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Donald Davidson was responsible for reinstating causalism—the thesis that psychological or rationalizing explanations of human behaviour are a species of event-causal explanation—as the dominant view in the philosophy of action. His advocacy of causalism had a profound effect on twentieth-century philosophy. Not only did it reshape the philosophy of action, it also contributed directly to forming the new consensus view in the philosophy of mind that psychological events or states are physical, spatially internal, and capable of standing in causal relations. Davidson’s critique of the so-called neo-Wittgensteinians’ arguments against causalism ignored the most powerful arguments offered by Wittgenstein himself and two of the most famous of the group, Gilbert Ryle and Elizabeth Anscombe. This chapter examines Wittgenstein’s treatment of the will, intention, and action, as well as Ryle’s attack on the doctrine of volitions, Anscombe’s account of the concept of intention, and Davidson’s discussion of reasons and his defence of causalism.

Keywords: Donald Davidson, philosophy of mind, action, causalism, will, intention, Gilbert Ryle, Elizabeth Anscombe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, reasons for action

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