Authored Book

Understanding People: Normativity and Rationalizing Explanation



Millar A (2004) Understanding People: Normativity and Rationalizing Explanation. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

This book is an examination of our understanding of why people think and act as they do. The key theme is that normative considerations form an indispensable part of the explanatory framework in terms of which we seek to understand each other. A conception according to which normativity is linked to reasons is defended. This provides the starting-point for an examination of certain normative commitments incurred by having, for instance, beliefs and intentions. It is argued that ascriptions of beliefs and intentions in and of themselves attribute normative commitments and that this has implications for the psychology of believing and intending. Indeed, all propositional attitudes of the sort we ascribe to people have a normative dimension, since possessing the concepts that the attitudes implicate is of its very nature commitment-incurring. The ramifications of these views for our understanding of people are explored.

belief; concepts; explanations of belief and action; intention; meaning; normative commitments; rationality; reasons for action; reasons for belief; simulation theory; theory-theory

Publication date31/12/2004
PublisherClarendon Press
Publisher URL
Place of publicationOxford, UK

People (1)


Professor Alan Millar
Professor Alan Millar

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy