MATTERING AND MECHANISM: MUST A MECHANISTIC UNIVERSE BE DEPRESSING?
Version of Record online: 4 AUG 2011
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 24, Issue 3, pages 326–339, September 2011
How to Cite
White, H. (2011), MATTERING AND MECHANISM: MUST A MECHANISTIC UNIVERSE BE DEPRESSING?. Ratio, 24: 326–339. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2011.00503.x
- Issue online: 4 AUG 2011
- Version of Record online: 4 AUG 2011
There is an intuition to the effect that, if human actions are explicable in scientific terms – that is, if mechanism holds – then our lives and actions do not matter. “Mattering” depends on successful intentional explanations of human actions. The intuition springs from an intuitive analogy between manipulation and mechanism: just as a manipulated agent's actions are not successfully explained in intentional terms, neither are the actions of a mechanistic agent. I explore ways to avoid the conclusion of this argument. Some of these ways are more promising than others, but all have non-trivial philosophical consequences.