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The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 9, 2006

Philosophical Anthropology

Zheng Yujian
Pages 137-142

Ex ante vs. Ex post Rationalization of Action

This paper is part of an attempt to clarify the relationship between explanatory reasons and justificatory reasons for actions of various kinds. It draws on a distinction between two notions of rationalization, viz., ex ante and ex post rationalization, to recast the akratic case on the one hand and to explicate an adequate sense in which an explanatory but non-justificatory reason for an action rationalizes the latter on the other hand. The explication is helped by analysis of a hypothetical example, and the name "quasi-rational" is legitimated for the type of actions this example represents. Last, but not least, the paper demonstrates that an implication of the argument is the falsity of one well-known principle in Davidson's action theory, i.e., the principle claiming that the (primary) reason for an action is also its cause.