[hist-analytic] Volition and "Deviant" Causal Chains

steve bayne baynesrb at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 12 07:47:28 EDT 2009

I'm looking at an essay by Berent Enc. It's called: "Causal Theories of Intentional Behavior and Wayward Causal Chains.


Here's why I looked it up. I'm skeptical of some criticisms Anscombe lodges against Chisholm (Human Life, Action and Ethics pp. 77-87).

The distinction that Chisholm (1966) was discussing was made to center, more or less, around transeunt vs. immanent causation.  Since I read Gunderson, years ago, on mind/body asymmetries (Minn. Studies V?) I've been trying to add to the usual list. The other day, I entertained the idea that we might want to know if there are deviant causal chains in the case of immanent causation. The point that Chisholm might raise is that in this case there are no chains. I do not agree. There may be a sense of immanent causation that is not "direct." But, hardly, anyone maintains immanent causation, why should I? Isn't it a ridiculous idea; which all sophomores who have refuted Descartes, just to name one, have also at once refuted, and repudiated ? Still, there are senior philosophers who are, I think, in the majority.

Here's the *possible* asymmetry: looked at from the *outer perspective* all immanent causation has results which are in some sense "deviant," whereas from the standpoint of the agent, the *inner perspective*, there is no "deviance." But if "deviance" is _only_ from an intention, then in the physical world there is no deviance. One is tempted, IF one accepts this, to say: the mind is introduced into the world as the source of deviant chains! Here I assume a variety of Cartesianism without apology. I just thought I'd bring the above URL to the attention of the few of you in action theory. I haven't completed it myself. My only reservation is getting "hung up" on the theory of "explanation." Also, there are some serious assumption's Enc makes about the efficacy of reasons that is controversial, at the very least. 

Posting on Carnap et al. soon.

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