Mental Events as Structuring Causes of Behaviour
CAUSAL explanations are context-sensitive. What we pick out as the cause of E depends on our interests, our purposes, and our prior knowledge. Almost any event, E, depends on a great variety of other events in such a way as to make any one of them eligible, given the right context, for selection as the cause in a causal explanation of E.1 My purpose in this paper is not to dispute this doctrine, but rather, by assuming its validity, to describe a difference between two kinds of cause -- what I call a triggering and a structuring cause -- and to exhibit the usefulness of this distinction for understanding two ways of causally explaining the behaviour of systems. I will, finally, by way of illustration, suggest that the difference between psychological and biological explanations of animal behaviour is fundamentally a difference of this kind: psychological explanations provide structuring causes of behaviour, while biological explanations provide triggering causes of behaviour.
An operator moves the cursor on a screen by pressing a key on the keyboard. Pressure on the key is the triggering cause of cursor____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Mental Causation. Contributors: John Heil - Editor, Alfred Mele - Editor. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 121.
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