De Re and De Dicto Explanation of Action

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This paper argues for an account of the relation between thought ascription and the explanation of action according to which de re ascriptions and de dicto ascriptions of thought each form the basis for two different kinds of action explanations, nonrationalizing and rationalizing ones. The claim that de dicto ascriptions explain action is familiar and virtually beyond dispute; the claim that that de re ascriptions are explanatory of action, however, is not at all familiar and indeed has mostly been denied by philosophers. I explain how de re ascriptions enter into non-rationalizing explanations of action and how attention to their distinctive explanatory nature reveals flaws in an alternative "dual-component" view about action explanation. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-798
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • action
  • action explanation
  • de re and de dicto thought attribution
  • dual-component explanation
  • rationality assumption
  • redundancy argument
  • thought ascription


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