Cover: Rational Causation, from Harvard University PressCover: Rational Causation in HARDCOVER

Rational Causation

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Product Details


$52.00 • £41.95 • €47.00

ISBN 9780674059900

Publication Date: 03/20/2012


280 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 table


The central problem of this work involves explaining the peculiar processes involved when a person offers reasons for what is thought or done. Traditionally, the philosophical explanation of these kinds of rational ability has been either from a naturalistic perspective or from a supersensible, mentalistic viewpoint. Marcus rejects these approaches and adopts what he describes as a ‘philosophically exotic’ theory in accordance with ordinary common sense. By sidestepping the issue of mind–body dualism, Marcus argues that human belief is fundamentally made possible by the mind’s ability to relate worldly facts rather than beliefs about those facts. Rational explanation here is not intended to explain internal states of mind. Moreover, Marcus contends that rational ability is not based on efficient causation as described by natural law but instead on a unique kind of cause termed ‘rational causation.’ His arguments weave together significant issues from epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of action. The work is carefully and insightfully argued with helpful references to current literature.—L.C. Archie, Choice

A remarkable book, one that should be read by anyone with interests in epistemology, action theory, or the philosophy of mind… Marcus has shown us that there is a defensible alternative to the Davidsonian picture of reasons as straightforward, lightning-like causes.—Clayton Littlejohn, The Philosopher’s Magazine

Rational Causation is about rationality—the capacity to appreciate and be guided by reasons. This is a big topic, straddling the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of action, and epistemology. Marcus has fascinating views to defend about each of these subjects, and he draws them all together into a deep and illuminating account of rationality’s nature and structure. The book offers just what one hopes for, but rarely finds, in work on rationality: the combination of a broad perspective with detailed and rigorous engagement of a range of specific issues. A superlative achievement.—Jason Bridges, University of Chicago

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