Title

The Belief-Desire Model of Action Explanation Reconsidered: Thoughts on Bittner

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2017

Keywords

reasons, action, Rüdiger Bittner, intentions, belief-desire model

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.1177/0048393117750076

Abstract

The belief-desire model of action explanation is deeply ingrained in multiple disciplines. There is reason to think that it is a cultural artifact. But is there an alternative? In this discussion, I will consider the radical critique of this action explanation model by Rüdiger Bittner, which argues that the model appeals to dubious mental entities, and argues for a model of reasons as responses to states or events. Instead, for Bittner, agents are reason-selectors—selecting the states or events to respond to and selecting the ones the agent is disposed to respond to. By getting rid of the explanatory role of beliefs, this model runs into difficulties over errors usually attributed to false beliefs. These can be resolved by expanding the notion of dispositions to cover the case of false belief. But this suggests that the belief-reason model serves to divide the category of dispositions in an arbitrary or culturally specific way.

Was this content written or created while at USF?

Yes

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, v. 48, issue 3, p. 290-308

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