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Understanding PeopleNormativity and Rationalizing Explanation$
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Alan Millar

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199254408

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199254408.001.0001

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(p.230) CHAPTER 9 Limits
Understanding People

Alan Millar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that while rationalizing explanations are genuine explanations, the explanatory insight they supply is limited. This is a limitation of the power of available explanations. The position is contrasted with that of enthusiasts for the explanatory power of intentional psychology, notably Jerry Fodor, and sceptics about such explanatory power, notably Paul Churchland. Fodor’s approach is contrasted with one according to which familiarity with relevant practices, in the sense previously explained, has a central role in both the explanation and prediction of what people think and do. In this connection, particular attention is paid to practices implicated by roles in institutions. It is further argued that not only are available rationalizing explanations limited in scope, but that there are limits to the availability of rationalizing explanations even with the domain in which commonsense sense thinking aspires to explanations.

Keywords:   intentional psychology, psychological explanation, practices, roles

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