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The Possibility of Philosophical UnderstandingReflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud$
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Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny, and Wai-hung Wong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381658.001.0001

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Dispositions and Rational Explanation

Dispositions and Rational Explanation

Chapter:
(p.182) 9 Dispositions and Rational Explanation
Source:
The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding
Author(s):

Jason Bridges

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381658.003.0009

Rational explanations of actions cite the agent's reasons for acting. Dispositional explanations of actions explain actions by identifying dispositions those actions manifest. Barry Stroud, appealing to considerations he finds in Hume and in Lewis Carroll's parable of the tortoise and Achilles, has argued that rational explanations are a species of dispositional explanation. The chapter critiques these arguments, along with additional arguments for dispositionalism by Michael Smith and John Broome, and proposes an alternative view according to which rational explanations operate by recapitulating the agent's deliberative perspective. The chapter ends by examining the implications of this dialectic for Stroud's view that a vicious regress besets philosophical attempts to give an account of the sources of understanding.

Keywords:   Stroud, Hume, action, disposition, reasons, rationality, motivation, explanation, deliberation, regress, understanding

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