2002 (24) Issue 2
Table of Contents
Title: Some Philosophical Prerequisites for a Sociological Theory of Action
Author: William I. Torry
Abstract: Drawing on the work of three prominent sociological theorists, the paper elaborates on outstanding flaws in sociological theories of action and agency. These concern a penchant for according social determinants considerably more import than intra-personal factors in explanations of action etiology. Such overly-deterministic perspectives on action, it is argued, can carry little weight in moots over moral and legal responsibility. Analytical philosophy is consulted for guidance on the task of constructing sociological theories of action properly mindful of the internal, psychological realities involved in the production of actions and in the practices of responsibility attribution.
Title: Motive zu moralischem Handeln
Author: Christopher Lumer
Abstract: This paper tries to provide a complete list and classification of the motives for acting in accordance with morals, to explain the mechanisms underlying the less transparent among these motives, and to probe which of these motives are suited for justifying morals. (1) After giving reasons for the importance of an empirical theory of moral motives for ethics, and after specifying the exact question of the present study (2) a general model of moral action (3) and a main classification of the motives for acting morally is presented. (4) Self-transcendent motives, (5) motives close to morals, like sympathy and respect, (6) and moral motives in the narrow sense, which proceed from moral judgements, are scrutinized in detail. Only the motives near to morals and interest in cooperation but not the moral motives in the narrow sense are suited for justifying morals. (7) A concluding sketch of the development of moral judgements shows that only motives near to morals and interest in cooperation (but not e.g. pure reason) are also the sources of autonomously developed moral criteria.
Title: Action for the Sake of ...: Caring and the Rationality of (Social) Action
Author: Bennett W. Helm
Abstract: My aim is to understand at least some of the non-instrumental reasons we can have for action in a way that can provide a satisfying non-egoist account of 'social actions' - actions undertaken for the sake of others. I do this in part by presenting, in terms of a discussion of the rationality of emotions, an account of what it is for something to have import to an agent (or, what amounts to the same thing, of what it is to care about that thing). I then extend this account to include our caring about others as agents, in part by revealing the way in which one's emotional and desiderative responsiveness to another agent one cares about must be sensitive to her cares, so that one comes to share her cares. The upshot is substantial revision in our understanding of agency, both in terms of our understanding of the role emotions play in our agency and in terms of a careful extension of the scope of practical rationality to include what I call a 'rationality of import'.
Title: 'In den Zeiten, wo das Wünschen noch geholfen hat'. Eine kritische Diskussion des handlungstheoretischen Standardmodells
Author: Ralf Stoecker
Abstract: There is a widely accepted view in action theory (most prominently defended by Donald Davidson) according to which (1) actions are events, (2) reasons are intentional attitudes of the agent (pairs of beliefs and desires), and (3) acting for a reason entails that the reason rationalizes as well as causes the action. In the first part of my contribution I list seventeen difficulties for this standard account; in the second part I give an outline of how a more plausible conception of reasons and actions could look like. According to this conception, which is based on Gilbert Ryle's criticism of a mechanistic understanding of psychological concepts, agency is due to a special kind of disposition of the agent, namely the disposition to behave as if the agent were permanently deliberating about what to do. The conception has surprising consequences for the ontological status of intentional attitudes and actions and for the relationship between action and responsibility.
Title: Intelligibilität und Normativität
Author: Norbert Anwander
Abstract: Actions are intelligible to the extent that their agents know what they are doing and are able to make sense of their own behaviour. It is widely held, both in tradition as well as in current philosophical debate about practical reasons, that this requires people to act for reasons they consider normative: Agents must see something good about their actions. This article argues against such a conceptual restriction on intelligibility. Not only can people act intentionally without acting for normative reasons as they would be mentioned in contexts of justification. It is also possible for us to understand our own actions without believing that they are supported by good reasons. The constitutive aim of intentional action, which is intelligibility, is distinct from the ideal of being able to consider one's actions as right and good. It is desirable, however, that we can understand our own actions not merely by reference to any reasons but to reasons that we regard as good ones.
Title: Natürlichkeit als Wert
Author: Thomas Schramme
Abstract: The predicate 'natural' is often used in a normative fashion, especially in Bioethics. But that something is natural does not alone suffice to explain its value. In this essay, I want to fulfil mainly two tasks: Firstly, to differentiate between several usages of the concept of naturalness and scrutinize whether they may serve a function in ethics; secondly, to argue for the (eudaimonistic, not moral) value of naturalness in certain respects. The value of the natural lies firstly in its significance for human well-being: specific natural functions form necessary elements and conditions of the ability to lead a good life. Secondly, the very feature of the natural, its being purposeless, which implies that we cannot read our aims out of nature, serves as the basis of its eudaimonistic value.