The logic of intending and predicting

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Can human acts be causally explained in the same way as the rest of nature? If so, causal explanation in the manner of the Hempelian model should fit the human sciences and the natural sciences equally. This is not so much a question of whether the Hempelian model is a completely adequate account of causal explanation, but about whether it is adequate or inadequate in the same way for each: if there is some unique feature of human acts that dictates that they are to be explained differently from natural events, then it is reasonable to suppose that this feature will be revealed by consideration of Hempelian explanations whether this is our final account of explanation or not, and if no such feature is revealed then it is reasonable to suppose that there are no fundamental differences between the human and natural sciences in how causal explanations proceed, whether this explanation is Hempelian or of some other kind. Two arguments have been given for there being such a feature. One – the well-known “Logical Connection Argument” – states that there cannot be a causal relation between a human action and the intention to perform that action. If this argument succeeds, then our ordinary explanations of human acts in terms of psychological states like intentions are not causal explanations at all. Although this does not mean that no causal explanation is true, we have the problem of finding appropriate causal antecedents of the acts. The other – the anti-predictionist argument – concludes from the fact that at least some human acts cannot be predicted that they cannot be causally explained. I wish to disarm the force of both of these arguments, and thus argue for explanatory monism: we do not need to adopt a mode of explanation for human sciences distinct from that of natural sciences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalKriterion (Austria)
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Explanatory monism
  • The anti-predictionist argument
  • The causal theory of action
  • The logical connection argument


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