Self, Action and Passivity

Philosophical Writings 44 (1):01-19 (2015)
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In a series of works Hubert Dreyfus argues that phenomenological considerations can show the falsity of John McDowell’s claim that ours actions are permeated with rationality. Dreyfus changes the details of his objections several times in this debate, but I shall argue that there is an implicit false assumption lurking in his thinking throughout his exchanges with McDowell. Originally Dreyfus proposed a distinction between “detached rule-following” and “situation-specific way of coping,” and later he replaces it with the distinction between “subjectivity” and “absorbed coping.” He then uses this framework to interpret some examples, attempting to show that they cannot be accommodated by McDowell’s position. I shall argue that in doing so Dreyfus presupposes too narrow conceptions of “rationality” and “mindedness,” and if these notions are understood appropriately, we can see that phenomenological considerations can be good supplements, rather than objections, to McDowell’s claim that our mindedness is pervasive in actions.
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