Causal explanation, teleological explanation: On radical particularism in attribution theory

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Examines the cause-reason distinction in attribution theory. Conceptual difficulties associated with previous interpretations of cause as opposed to reason are considered, and a reformulation is presented that shows how reason may refer to a specific type of explanation (notably, teleological) and cause may refer to the general case of explanation (the inclusive sense) or to the general case of nonteleological explanation (the exclusive sense). A. R. Buss's (see record 1980–09652–001) recent comments regarding teleological and nonteleological (causal) modes of naive explanation are examined, and it is noted that teleological (reason-type) explanation does indeed fall within the purview of attribution theory but is merely one among a number of possible explanatory types that belong in the attributional domain. It is concluded that a theory of naive epistemology might well rid itself of concern with lay concepts (such as cause and reason) that have figured frequently in attributional formulations. Such concepts may be thought of as the contents of knowledge, of which there may be an infinite variety. Instead, an epistemic theory should restrict itself to the process of knowledge acquisition assumed to be invariant across the diverse epistemic contents of possible interest to the layperson. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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