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Practical reasons figure in both the justification and the causal explanation of action. It is usually assumed that the agent's state of believing rather than what they believe must figure in the causal explanation of action. But, that the agent believes something is not a reason in the sense of being part of the justification of what they do. So it is often concluded that the justifying reason is a different sort of thing from the causally motivating reason. But this means that in a causal process of acting the justifying reasons have done their work by the time the agent has the appropriate beliefs and desires. Transforming these into behaviour is not guided by reason. This conception of action in which there is no role for reason in the part of the process where anything actually gets done is not acceptable. So the original assumption that beliefs rather than the believed facts figure in the causal explanation of action should be challenged.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Eire., Email:

Publication date: 2004-05-01

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