purposive explanation

purposive explanation

an explanation of an occurrence as the outcome of an actor's own purposes and the purposive act(s) which follows from these purposes. Debate in philosophy and in sociology exists as to whether or not such explanations should be regarded as a species of’causal explanation’, explaining events that the actor ‘makes happen’. For some theorists ‘reasons are causes’, and ‘purposive explanations’, ‘causal explanations’, but for others they are not. Either way, however, purposive explanations are not causal explanations in the Humean sense of’universal’ empirical regularities involving ‘casual laws’, in so far as they imply that actors could have acted differently. A crucial issue is whether purposive social action can be further explained, e.g. in 'structural terms’ and/or in lawlike ways. See also ACTION, TELEOLOGY, FREE WILL, EXPLANATION.
References in periodicals archive ?
Altogether different explanatory processes are thus at issue in axiological and in purposive explanation, and the ontological requirements of the former are a great deal more modest than those of the latter.
To reach outside the value domain itself to equip value with a purposive explanation that is theological in nature is unnecessary and counterproductive--it complicates rather than simplifies the explanatory process inasmuch as we then cannot avoid the question "Why does the putative creator adopt this purpose?
It is taken for granted that the adequacy of an account depends on its fitting emotions into purposive explanation of human life.
Earlier natural science was still animistic, holding to divine purposive explanations when natural ones ran out.