D'Oro, G (2018) The Touch of King Midas: Collingwood on why actions are not events. Philosophical Explorations, 21 (1). pp. 160-169. ISSN 1386-9795

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Abstract

It is the ambition of natural science to provide complete explanations of reality. Collingwood argues that science can only explain events, not actions. The latter is the distinctive subject matter of history and can be described as actions only if they are explained historically. This paper explains Collingwood’s claim that the distinctive subject matter of history is actions and why the attempt to capture this subject matter through the method of science inevitably ends in failure because science explains events, not actions. It argues that Collingwood’s defence of the methodological autonomy of history vis-à-vis natural science is not based on a commitment to human exceptionalism, i.e. the exclusion of human beings and their doings from the rest of nature, but on the view that explanations which appeal to norms are different in kind from explanations which appeal to empirical regularities. Given the close relationship between the method and the subject matter of a form of inquiry, actions elude any attempt to explain them through the scientific method because the application of this method entails that what is thus explained is not an action but an event.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Philosophical Explorations on 16 January 2018, available online: https://doi.org/10.1080/13869795.2017.1421697
Uncontrolled Keywords: actions, events, action explanation, natural past, human past, historical past, historical understanding, casual explanations, rationalising explanations
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2018 09:17
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2018 14:18
URI: http://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/4312

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