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Reason and the structure of Davidson's "Desire-BeliefModel"


In the present discussion in the analytic theory of action, broadly two models for the explanation or justification of actions can be distinguished: the internalist and the externalist model. Against this background, I discuss Davidsonís version of the internalist Desire-Belief Model (DBM). First, I show that what Davidson calls "pro attitude" (a main element of his concept of reason) has two distinct meanings. An implication of this is that Davidsonís DBM actually comprises two different models: the "classical" DBM and a model that has an extra premise, the "nonclassical" model. However, from another point of view one can say that the classical DBM is the nonclassical model in which a premise is missing. In order to determine which viewpoint is correct, I introduce SchŁtzís distinction between "because-motives" and "in-order-to-motives". With the help of this distinction, I can show that the classical DBM is an incomplete version of the nonclassical model. Besides of the premise that refers to the agentís pro attitude, we need this extra premise in order to refer to the occasion as experienced by the agent that makes him or her act. Only then can we fully explain or justify an action.

Reason and the Structure of Davidsonís "Desire-Belief Model"

Henk bij de Weg

1. Introduction

In the present discussion in the analytic theory of action, broadly two models for the explanation or justification of actions1 can be distinguished: the internalist and the externalist model.2 According to the former model, the agent acts on the basis of his or her motivations; according to the latter model, the agent acts on the basis of factors independent of his or her contingent motivational constitution.3 In its purest form, an internal reason is sufficient to explain and/or justify the agentís action in an internalist model, and an external reason is sufficient in an external model. What is striking then from an outsiderís perspective is that an external reason is absent in the internalist model, and, on the other hand, that an internal reason is absent in the externalist model. However, in my view, a model for the explanation and/or justification of actions is not complete, when either an external reason or an internal reason is not present.

Against this background, I want to discuss Davidsonís model for the explanation and rationalization of actions, an internalist model that describes how actions are causally related to reasons. The essence of my criticism is that this model does not contain an external reason. Since Davidsonís approach is internalist, I shall pay no attention to my criticism on externalist models and approaches (like Dancy 2000). Therefore, the question whether an external reason can explain or justify an action without an intervening internal reason is outside the objective of this paper.

I start my discussion with an analysis of Davidsonís model for the explanation and rationalization of actions (section 2). I show that Davidson actually employs two models, which are mixed up, namely the "classical" Desire-Belief Model or "classical model", and what I want to call by contrast the "nonclassical model". As such this analysis does not criticize the classical model, insofar as it is considered to be acceptable that there exist two models side by side, which can be applied according to the circumstances. However, I think that the analysis shows certain inconsistencies in Davidsonís approach. Therefore, that we have two models at our disposal that we can apply according to the circumstances raises several questions. I shall answer these questions in section 3. There it becomes clear that the classical model is incomplete in the light of the nonclassical model, in the sense that a premise is absent. This premise can be interpreted as the occasion that made the agent act, as the agent experienced it. In section 4, I recapitulate briefly the result of my analysis.

2. The double meaning of Davidsonís concept of pro attitude

2.1. "Pro attitude" and the reference to action

"Whenever someone does something for a reason ... he can be characterized as (a) having some sort of pro attitude toward actions of a certain kind, and (b) believing (or knowing, perceiving, noticing, remembering) that his action is of that kind" (Davidson 1980, 3-4). In this way, Davidson introduces his version of the "Desire-Belief Model" (DBM) in his "Actions, Reasons, and Causes". This DBM, which goes back to Hume, is the classical model for the explanation and justification of actions. That is why I want to call it also the "classical model". The basic assumption of the model is that the agentís actions are steered by certain desires and relevant beliefs the agent has, and that for this reason we can use the desires and beliefs for explaining (or justifying) these actions, by virtue of the following principle: "If S desires something and believes that doing A will help secure it, S will do A" (Kim 1996, 126). Kim immediately adds (correctly) that this principle as such is too strong and that it is not necessary without qualification that an agent who has a certain desire plus a relevant belief really does A. So, we have to refine the DBM that is based on the principle.4 However, these refinements are not important for me in this paper. It is enough to put that an action is in principle explained or justified by a preceding desire plus a belief. Then, the desire and the belief in the DBM together are often called the "reason" of the action involved, as is done by Davidson as well.

When Davidson gives his version of the DBM, initially he does not talk about "desire" but about "pro attitude", like in the quotation in the preceding paragraph. Such a pro attitude is a positive attitude of an agent towards a certain action. It is a covering concept, that includes "desires, wantings, urges, promptings, and a great variety of moral views, aesthetic principles, economic prejudices, social conventions, and public and private goals and values in so far as these can be interpreted as attitudes of an agent directed toward actions of a certain kind" (Davidson 1980, 4). However, after the publication of his paper "Actions, Reasons, and Causes" in 1963, Davidson hardly uses the term "pro attitude" any longer, but he talks usually about "desire", which before was a certain kind of pro attitude.5 In case Davidson does talk about "pro attitudes", then he thinks first of all of desires or he even takes desires synonymous with pro attitudes. For example, in his paper "Intending" Davidson first talks about "beliefs and pro attitudes", which he then replaces by the couple "beliefs and desires" (Davidson 1980, 85). Just after that he says: "The agentís pro attitude is perhaps a desire or want" (id., 86), a few lines later Davidson writes "a pro attitude Ö and a belief" (id., 86-87), next he says "beliefs and desires" (id., 87), a little bit further on it is "desires (or other pro attitudes)" (ibid.), and later again "beliefs and desires" (or the other way round; id., 87, 95).

With his later preference for "belief" instead of "pro attitude", Davidson seems to conform to the current terminology. However, in view of the broad meaning that Davidson has given to "pro attitude", it looks like a reduction to a certain type of pro attitude. One can wonder whether it is right doing so. I want to investigate this.

A few lines before the just quoted description of "pro attitude", Davidson implicitly indicates it as "some feature, consequence, or aspect of the action the agent wanted, desired, prized, held dear, thought dutiful, beneficial, obligatory, or agreeable" (id., 3). At first sight, this seems to be a somewhat incoherent enumeration of positive attitudes towards an action. I want to try to bring some order in it with the help of a passage that Davidson uses for elucidating his description of pro attitude and that follows immediately after it. It reads as follows:

"The word Ďattitudeí does yeoman service here, for it must cover not only permanent character traits that show themselves in a lifetime of behaviour, like love of children or a taste for loud company, but also the most passing fancy that prompts a unique action, like a sudden desire to touch a womanís elbow. In general, pro attitudes must not be taken for convictions, however temporary, that every action of a certain kind ought to be performed, is worth performing, or is, all things considered, desirable. On the contrary, a man may all his life have a yen, say, to drink a can of paint, without ever, even at the moment he yields, believing it would be worth doing"

(id., 4).

Davidson distinguishes here two types of pro attitudes: 1) the agentís permanent character traits; and 2) his sudden desire. Both must be relevant to action in the sense that they are also actually expressed in one or more actions, or anyway that this is possible. However, as becomes clear from the example of the first type, it is not necessary that the pro attitude directly results in an action, as is the case in the example of the second type. The agentís love for children does not show directly the action that the agent actually must do or must have done, if it is a pro attitude, but first the agent has to convert it or to "translate" it into what I would like to call a reference to action: a statement how to act in specified situations. Such a reference to action is, for example: "One has to punish children one loves, if they have done something that is not allowed". Then, such a reference to action can be applied to a real situation with the help of a belief. Such a belief might be: "Little John, my dear son, has eaten some of the plums in our neighbourís garden without consent, and that is unseemly. Therefore, he must receive a reprimand, a punishment appropriate to this deed".

Unlike a pro attitude of the first type, a pro attitude of the second type does not require a "translation" in order to make it relevant to action. This is so because the pro attitude itself contains already a reference to action, as in Davidsonís example of touching a womanís elbow. However, this does not mean (and that is also Davidsonís view) that the action necessarily follows from the pro attitude. What still is absent is the agentís belief how to realize this action. In a trivial case, such a belief may say that the agent can execute this pro attitude by moving her hand to the woman next to her; less trivial is that the belief contains the view that she must not touch the elbow of the woman next to her, but the elbow of her friend at the other side of the room, and that she has to rise from her seat in order to do that.

It might be objected that it is not necessary to formulate a separate reference to action in case of a pro attitude of the first type. Such a reference to action could be attached to the belief. Of course, that is right, and in our example the belief would then be something like "Children who are loved have to be punished [if necessary], and Little John is my dear son etc." But this takes nothing away from what I want to conclude here: The pro attitudes as described by Davidson can be distinguished into pro attitudes that do and pro attitudes that do not contain a reference to action.

Davidson discerns (at least initially) a large number of pro attitudes, like wantings, promptings, moral views etc. (see above). Some will always be connected to a reference to action, some never will. There will also be pro attitudes that sometimes do and sometimes do not contain a reference to action, but this possibility is not important for my dichotomy. What is important is that the presence or absence of a reference to action in a pro attitude leads to another model for explaining or justifying action, as we shall see in the next section.

In view of my distinction between types, the question presents itself whether "pro attitude" in its broad meaning can be replaced by "desire". For later, a desire appears to be the prototype of pro attitude for Davidson. Often, he even speaks of "desire" instead of pro attitude, as we have seen. Now it is so that Davidson himself does not give a further description of "desire" which makes an immediate answer to my question possible. However, I think it is clear that "desire" can be equivalent only to a pro attitude with a reference to action. This is supported not only by my analysis just made but also by other examples given by Davidson in this context. In his paper "Intending", Davidson speaks of "a desire to humiliate an acquaintance" (id., 84), a "desire to board a plain headed for London, England" (ibid.), "It is desirable to improve the taste of the stew" (id., 86), or "my eating something sweet is desirable" (id., 96). In each case, the desires involved directly contain a reference to action that has only to be specified in a belief, as Davidson also does. For example, in the last case the accompanying belief reads: "I believe this candy is sweet, and so my eating this candy will be a case of my eating something sweet, and I conclude my eating this candy is desirable" (ibid.).6 However, when Davidson reduces "pro attitude" to "desire", he ignores that there exist pro attitudes without a reference to action that cannot be covered by "desire", even not in its general meaning. Therefore, it is not correct to consider "desire" to be the prototype of "pro attitude", if we base ourselves on Davidsonís own description of "pro attitude".

2.2. Consequences for Davidsonís Desire-Belief Model

If it is so that two types pro attitudes can be distinguished in Davidson, to wit one with and one without a reference to action, then there must be two types of reasons as well: reasons in which the reference to action is part of the agentís pro attitude, and reasons in which this is not the case but in which the reference to action is part of the agentís belief. In the first case, we have the classical model. One premise describes what the agent aims for, desires, and the like. In order to realize this, the agent needs an action different from the one mentioned in this premise. Which action the agent has to perform is described in the other premise, which formulates his or her relevant belief. If the two premises together form a sound argument, they explain the agentís action, which is described then in the conclusion of the syllogism formed in this way. A well-known example of such an argument is von Wrightís practical syllogism. Its simplest version reads as follows:

(PS) A intends to bring about p
considers that he cannot bring about p unless he does x
Therefore A sets himself to do x

(von Wright 1977, 96).7 Actually, an action is mentioned both in the first premise and in the conclusion. Interpreted in a Davidsonian way, the first premise formulates a general description of the action desired, aimed for etc. It corresponds to Davidsonís "desire". The second premise corresponds to Davidsonís "belief". Just like in Davidson, the conclusion of PS formulates a particular action that falls under a general description (cf. also Bij de Weg 1996, ch. VI).

Before I continue to discuss Davidsonís Desire-Belief Model, first I want to frame another version of the DBM. In doing this, I use the second type of reasons. How does this version look like? Let us investigate this by first formulating a scheme that is analogous to PS. We have at our disposal a reason, consisting of a pro attitude and a belief, and the action to be explained: With this, we can make the following syllogism

(S1)     pro attitude

The pro attitude in S1 contains no reference to action, for we find this reference in the other premise, at least if we take a scheme with two premises. In fact, the belief in S1 has two parts, namely a part that contains a reference to action, and another part that contains a belief formulated as in the classical DBM. We can express this in our scheme in the following way:

(S2) pro attitude (NC)
        reference to action + belief (C)

In S2 "C" means "classical", while "NC" indicates that the pro attitude concerned has not been formulated as in the classical DBM, so without referring to an action. However, here a reference to action is a translation of a pro attitude (NC) into a general situation that is then applied to a specific situation by means of a belief (C) (analogous to the way it happens in the classical DBM). In order to express this in the scheme, I alter S2 into S3:

(S3) pro attitude (NC)
        reference to action
        belief (C)

How does a reference to action in a model of type S3 look like? As we have seen, such an action is a translation of a pro attitude (NC) into consequences of action. For example, love for children is translated into a punishment in order to correct unseemly behaviour. However, such a reference to action is general and it is specified for the situation at issue by belief (C). The reference to action in S3 indicates in fact how the agent wants, desires, needs and so on to realize pro attitude (NC). In other words, the reference to action of the second premise in S3 is nothing but a pro attitude in the classical DBM! This brings me to my final scheme for the case that the original pro attitude does not contain a reference to action:

(S4) pro attitude (NC)
        pro attitude (C)
        belief (C)

Without representing also the classical DBM by a scheme in the same way, I think that this will be clear: S4 is the classical DBM plus an extra pro attitude that does not contain a reference to action.

The upshot is that Davidsonís DBM falls apart in two distinct models: the "classical model" en S4, which I want to call the "nonclassical model". Moreover, now it is also expressed in the structure of the DBM that the concepts "pro attitude" and "desire" are not interchangeable just like that, as Davidson seems to suggest, and that the latter cannot serve as a prototype of the former. At most, "desire" can .be used as the prototype of pro attitude in the classical model.

3. The structure of the Desire-Belief Model

Now we have two models for explaining and/or justifying actions, which we can apply depending on the kinds of reasons we have. Consequently, the classical model has lost its monopoly position, but as such this need not be problematical. However, two questions remain. Compared with the classical DBM, the nonclassical model has an extra premise. What is the status of this extra premise compared with the "classical" factors of action? Another question concerns the relation between both models: do we really have two models for the explanation and/or justification of actions? I have described the nonclassical model as the classical DBM to which a factor of action has been added. On the other hand, now that we dispose of the nonclassical model, the original DBM can also be seen as the nonclassical model missing a pro attitude (NC). So, one can wonder whether the classical model cannot better be seen as an incomplete nonclassical model.

3.1. "Because-motives" and "in-order-to-motives"

Before answering the questions just asked, first I want to discuss a distinction proposed by the Austrian-American sociologist Alfred SchŁtz. In his analysis of Weberís theory of motivation, SchŁtz makes a distinction between a "because-motive" for an action and an "in-order-to-motive". A motive is a because-motive for an action, if it refers to the agentís experiences in the past; it is an in-order-to-motive, if it refers to the result of the action.8 These motives take their names from the way they are formulated: the standard wording of a because-motive is a clause beginning with "because"; the standard wording of an in-order-to-motive is characterized by the phrase "in order to". Now it is possible that an in-order-to-motive is phrased in a clause starting with "because", but the difference between, what SchŁtz calls, a "true because-motive" and a "false because-motive" is that the former unlike the latter always can be rephrased in the standard form of an in-order-to-motive (SchŁtz 1974, 115-120). Moreover (and this has not been noticed by SchŁtz), the clause wording a false because-motive always contains a verb expressing a wanting, wishing or something like that, unlike a clause wording a true because-motive. The sentence "I put up my umbrella in order not to become wet" can also be worded correctly as "Because I do not want to become wet, I put up my umbrella". On the other hand, the rewording of "Because it rains, I put up my umbrella" to a construction with an in-order-to clause does not result in a correct sentence. For that reason, the clause "Because it rains" expresses a true because-motive, and the clause "Because I do not want to become wet" expresses an in-order-to-motive, which obviously can be worded in the standard phrasing "in order not to become wet" as well.

It is important that a (true) because-motive does not contain an expression of a will9 and that an in-order-to-motive does, since in this way these motives have a resemblance to the pro attitudes (NC) en (C) respectively, as we shall see. The fact is that a willing implies a reference to an action. A person who wants something will have to do something for it, for else it will not happen. Of course, a person can want something without drawing the conclusion that he or she has to do something for it. But that is here not under discussion, since we are investigating the role of wanting for explaining actions.10 Suppose that an agent does not want to become wet, while it is raining, and moreover that she puts up her umbrella. In that case, this will (in conjunction with a relevant belief) is no reason for putting up the umbrella, unless the agent puts up the umbrella because of her will. Then, what the agent wants to refers to what the agent intends with the action (which is initially formulated in the belief), and so it is relevant to the action, and in this sense the expression of the will contains an in-order-to-motive and a reference to action. However, such a reference to action is absent in the (true) because-motive, because here the expression of a will is absent. A because-motive refers to how a situation is experienced, which makes the agent draw up a plan of action. What this plan will be is still open. For example, the because-motive "because it rains" leaves open whether the agent wants to prevent that she becomes wet, or that she wants to put the houseplants outside, or whatever. However, it is so that SchŁtz talks about a because-motive only if the experience is relevant to action anyhow.

For SchŁtz, the because-motive and the in-order-to-motive are not independent of each other. If one starts from the because-motive, the relation is that the because-motive motivates the agent to draw up a plan to action. Then the agentís in-order-to-motive is included in this plan of action. If one starts from the in-order-to-motive, the significance of the because-motive for the in-order-to-motive is that the former shows the place of the latter in the context of the agentís experiences.

3.2. The relation between the classical and the nonclassical model

SchŁtzís distinction between because-motives and in-order-to-motives helps me to answer the second question of my introduction to this section. Let us take the following example employed by Davidson: "I flipped the switch because I wanted to turn on the light and by saying I wanted to turn on the light I explain (give my reason for, rationalize) the flipping" (Davidson 1980, 4-5). For the sake of brevity, I suppose, Davidson does not mention a relevant belief. However, we can easily add it. Then, in this example, "I wanted to turn on the light" is the in-order-to-motive; "the flipping" or rather "I flipped the switch" is the action; while the belief will refer to the agentís ideas about how the electricity grid works, the presence of electric cables in the house, how the flips works, and so on. In short, let us say that the belief says that I can turn on the light by flipping this switch. We can represent this example in scheme S5:

(S5) I wanted to turn on the light
        I believed that I could turn on the light by flipping this switch
        I flipped the switch

This scheme of my flipping the switch completely agrees with Davidsonís view how an explanation of action looks like and in this way it describes a complete explanation according to the Desire-Belief Model. But does it really give a complete explanation, why I flipped the switch? For what this scheme does not show is why I wanted to turn on the light, i.e. what made me turn on the light. It seems obvious that I have done it, because it was dark, but it is also possible that I just had put another bulb into the lamp and that I wanted to check it. However, the scheme does not show what is the case. Apparently the former is meant, for introducing the example Davidson says: "I flip the switch, turn on the light, and illuminate the room" (id., 4). But this information is not found in the explanation framed by Davidson, because for him only that I wanted to turn on the light (plus the agentís unmentioned belief) is important as an explaining factor ("reason") (see the quotation), and obviously this explanation is complete, according to Davidson. At least this is so, if we start from the classical DBM used by Davidson. However, the explanation as formulated by Davidson as described in S5 is applicable to two situations if not to more, namely the two situations just sketched, and this implies that we still do not know why I wanted to turn on the light, anyway on the basis of S5. For if it is so that my wife enters the room at the moment that I flip the switch and if just then the room is bathed in sunlight, then an explanation that is in accordance with S5 and that is supported by Davidson cannot be sufficient for her without an extra premise like "I wanted to check the bulb that I had just put into the lamp". An explanation in accordance with S5 will just raise more questions in my wifeís mind in order to know what I was doing and to make my action clear to herself. Only if she knows that I had put another bulb into the lamp, she knows really why I flipped the switch. But in order to incorporate this information in the scheme, we need an extra premise, namely one that formulates the agentís (in this case: mine) because-motive.11 I think that this need for an extra premise is no incident that is determined only by the features of the example chosen. It is generally so that we can explain the agentís action in a sufficient way only, if we know the agentís in-order-to-motive, and if, besides of a relevant belief, we also know the agentís because-motive.

My criticism of Davidsonís version of the DBM has been implicit until now. I want to make it explicit. When I introduced SchŁtzís distinction between because-motives and in-order-to-motives, I indicated already that there is a similarity between these motives and the types of pro attitudes. For because-motives do not contain a reference to action, just like pro attitudes (NC) do not. On the other hand, in-order-to-motives do contain such a reference to action, just like pro attitudes (C) do. In the discussion of both motives that then follows, we see that the similarity is even stronger: The place and role of the in-order-to-motive in a scheme like S5 is similar to the place and role of a pro attitude (C) in the classical DBM. However, S5 is an incomplete model of explanation, because a premise referring to a because-motive that is necessary for an explanation is missing. We get a complete model by adding such a premise. However, the model that we get then is analogous to S4, so that we can state that the place and role of the because-motive is nothing but the place and role of a pro attitude (NC) in the nonclassical model. Therefore, I come to the conclusion that the pro attitudes (C) and (NC) are alternative designations for SchŁtzís in-order-to-motive and because-motive respectively.

My analysis has consequences for the classical DBM. We have seen that a model of explanation with a premise for an in-order-to-motive but without a premise for a because-motive is not complete. Analogously the same is true for the classical DBM. In fact, we had shown this already in our analysis of Davidsonís example in this section, although this has been in term of SchŁtzís concepts. So, my conclusion is: the classical DBM, especially Davidsonís version, is incomplete, because a premise referring to the agentís pro attitude (NC), i.e. his or her relevant because-motive, is missing. The classical DBM is an incomplete version of the nonclassical model. There are not two models for explaining actions, but there is just one, namely the latter (see S4).

3.3. The meaning of pro attitude (NC) in the nonclassical model

What is the status of the premise that we have added to the classical DBM; so, what is here the status of pro attitude (NC)? In order to examine this, let us look again at the distinction between an in-order-to-motive and a because-motive. In section 3.1, we have seen that an in-order-to-motive has a reference to action, while a because-motive has not. However, the essence of the distinction is not this reference to action in the first place, for also a because-motive refers to an action in a certain way, albeit indirectly. As we have seen, a because-motive is only a motive, if it has a certain relation to an action. But a because-motive does not imply a particular action. That it rains, and also that I become wet, does not imply that the agent wants to avoid the rain or becoming wet. Maybe it is so that the rain or becoming wet is a pleasant experience for the agent, if she is outdoors, or the agent may be so lost in her thoughts that she does not notice the rain. Only when the agent gets a feeling that she can do something about, or perhaps with, the situation she finds herself in and that she must do something, only then the situation becomes an experience that is relevant to action and so only then the situation becomes a because-motive. A because-motive makes the agent develop a plan of action. This plan describes what the result of the agentís action must be and what the agent must do, and in this way it contains the agentís in-order-to-motive In our example that the agent is walking in the rain, it may say that she wants to stay dry and that she will put up an umbrella to that end; or it says that she wants to have the dust washed away from her houseplants, and so that she has to go home for putting them outdoors.

For SchŁtz, the essence of the distinction between because-motives and in-order-to-motives was a difference in time perspective: The agentís former experiences lead to the development of a plan of action for what the agent expects to achieve with the execution of the plan hereafter (SchŁtz 1974, 74-83, 115-130). As such, this is correct, but I think that we can give a wider meaning to the because-motives, and also to the pro attitudes (NC) than that they are only preceding experiences. Let us look once again why I introduced the distinction between pro attitudes (NC) and pro attitudes (C). The reason was that some pro attitudes do contain references to action and that some do not. We have also seen that a pro attitude (C) (in conjunction with a relevant belief) cannot explain or justify an action without referring to a relevant pro attitude (NC). Or in SchŁtzís terms, there is no plan of action without an experienced occasion that makes us plan an action.12 It is just this experienced occasion what is formulated in the non-classical pro attitude.

By adding a premise to Davidsonís classical DBM that refers to the occasion as experienced by the agent, we have extended it with an external reason. The range of what can be experienced as an occasion to act is very wide. It includes our normative-justificatory reasons, or, taking Davidsonís list (see section 2.1), the agentís "moral views, aesthetic principles, economic prejudices, social conventions, and public and private goals and values"; or such an occasion may simply be the objective situation the agent is in, like that it is raining.

4. Conclusion

In this paper, I have shown that Davidsonís concept of pro attitude must be divided in two types, in accordance with SchŁtzís because-motive and in-order-to-motive. This has consequences for the structure of the "classical" DBM that is used by Davidson. We have seen that it had to be extended with an extra premise. Instead of a single premise that refers to the agentís pro attitude, we need two premises: one referring to the agentís experiences, and one referring to what the agent expects of the action. We can interpret this this way that so justice is done to the occasion as experienced by the agent that makes the agent act. So, we have extended Davidsonís DBM with an external reason.

In my 1996, where I have criticized von Wrightís model of explanation, I have shown that this extended DBM is still too simple. However, here I cannot found this remark, but I want to conclude that generally the classical DBM is too limited a model for explaining actions and that instead of it we need a model in line with my scheme S4, anyhow.


1I shall pass over the question whether these models explain or justify action, or whether they do both. Anyway, the Desire-Belief Model, which is central in this paper, pretends to do both.

2Although for the distinction usually references are made to Williams 1981, von Wright employs it already. See for example von Wright 1976.

3I leave it at this vague indication of the distinction between the two types of models. For the present paper, it is not necessary to be more specific. See for a review of the discussion for example Gosepath 2002, Cullity/Gaut 1997; Wallace 1999.

4See for such refining Kim 1996, 126-127; von Wright 1977.

5See his collection of papers Davidson 1980, which contains also a reprint of "Actions, Reasons, and Causes".

6Of course, it is possible to say "I desire coffee", "I desire that you..." etc. What makes my analysis relevant is 1) the way Davidson analyses "desire" (namely as a pro attitude that plays a part in explaining and rationalizing action), and that in this analysis desire is followed by an action; 2) that the absence of a reference to action for some desires has no consequences for my analysis that follows.

7I ignore that "intention" has for von Wright a different meaning than for Davidson in this case. Here only the form is important.

8See SchŁtz 1974, 115-130. I have discussed both motives extensively in my 1996; see especially pp. 72-73.

9I simply shall write "will" or "want to", also in case we think of wishing, intending, and the like

10Cf. also note 6.

11It might be objected that we need to replace the first premise of S5 by "I wanted to check the light" and that this is sufficient. However, my reply is that this changes only the problem, because then we can ask again: "Why did I want to check the light?". That I had put another bulb into the lamp is only one of the answers that can be given. Other possible answers are: "A fuse had melted" or "I had bumped on the lamp and I was afraid that it had been broken".

12There is a difference with Bratmanís approach here. Following SchŁtz, I have included the agentís desire and belief in the plan of action (cf. 3.1). For Bratman, plans (are in conjunction with prior intentions) the background framework within which the desire and belief that will be followed still have to be determined: "prior intentions and plans pose problems and provide a filter on options that are potential solutions to those problems; desire-belief reasons enter as considerations to be weighed in deliberating between relevant and admissible options" (Bratman 1987, 32-35; quotation on p. 35).



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