8
Mental Events as Structuring Causes of Behaviour

FRED DRETSKE

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.


1. Triggering and Structuring Causes

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

____________________
My thanks to Fred Adams, Martin Eimer, and Lynne Rudder Baker for helpful criticism.
1
I will not try to say how an event must depend on an earlier event to make this earlier event eligible (given appropriate interests, purposes, and prior knowledge) as 'the cause' of the later. I am, however, sympathetic to the analysis proposed by David Lewis ( 1973). My purpose in this essay is not to analyse the general notion of cause, but, assuming we already have a workable notion of cause, to make a distinction in different types of cause and, hence, types of causal explanation. For this reason I also

-121-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Mental Causation
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 344

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.