Max Weber on Explanation of Human Actions: Towards a Reconstruction

Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 12 (3):21-30 (1995)
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Recent discussions on the explanation of action are permeated with two divergent models of explanation, namely causal model and non- causal model. For causalists the notion of explanation is intimately related to that of causation. As Davidson contends, any rudimentary explanation of an event gives its cause. More sophisticated explanations may cite a relevant law in support of a singular causal claim. The non-causalists, on the other hand, hold that when we explain an action we do not ask for the cause, rather we try to understand the action in terms of its meaning. Moreover, they argue that the causal model fails to account for the conceptual priority of human agency. The aim of this paper is to show how Max Weber attempted a synthesis of the two divergent models of explanation in the realm of human actions. The first section of this paper gives an expository account of Weber’s theory of explanation. In the second section an attempt is made to interpret Weber’s thesis so as to assimilate the two divergent models of explanation.

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Koshy Tharakan
Goa University


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