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This paper takes a close look at the kinds of considerations we use to reach agreement in our ordinary (non-philosophical and non-theoretical) judgments about a person's reasons for acting, and the following theses are defended. First, considering the circumstances in which the action occurs is often enough to remove our puzzlement as to why someone acts as she does. Second, in those situations where we do need to enquire about the agent's state of mind, this does not, in the normal case, lead us to look for hidden, inner events that are candidates for the causes of her action. Finally, even though there are cases in which the agent's introspections, reflections, and deliberations are relevant to our search for reasons, such cases do not lend support to the idea that reasons are hidden or inner causes of action. This suggests a problem for most philosophical accounts of what it is to act for reasons and for most philosophical accounts of the nature of mental states.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Philosophy/SECL University of Kent Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2005

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