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Davidson, Reasons, and Causes: A Plea for a Little Bit More Empathy


  • Karsten R. Stueber College of the Holy Cross



In this essay, I will suggest ways of improving on Davidson’s conception of the explanatory autonomy of folk psychological explanations. For that purpose, I will appeal to insights from the recent theory of mind debate emphasizing the centrality of various forms of empathy for our understanding of another person’s mindedness. While I will argue that we need to abandon Davidson’s position of anomalous monism, I will also show that my account is fully compatible with Davidson’s non-reductive and interpretationist account of meaning and mental content. Indeed, my account does more justice to the empathic capacities underlying our interpretive capacities, which Davidson himself has to acknowledge in thinking about the constitutive features of thought and meaning. More specifically, I will propose a new way of philosophically safeguarding the causal-explanatory autonomy of our ordinary action explanations by showing how our empathic capacities are involved in epistemically delineating the domain of rational agency.


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