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David Heering

David Heering


Philosophy of action (in particular: action explanation), metaphysics of agency, metanormativity (formerly known as metaethics), philosophy of explanation

My research takes places in the area of overlap between the metaphysics of agency, the theory of action and motivation, and metanormativity. I am particularly interested in the relationship that obtains between an action and a reason when the agent acts for that reason. My project looks at the connection between reason and action as a particular instantiation of a more general type of relationship which has puzzled philosophers across a wide variety of subdisciplines. This type of relationship also obtains when agents believe on the basis of evidence, do the right thing for the right reasons, or act on the basis of, and not merely in accordance with, a rule. My project starts from the assumption that we can gain an understanding of this relationship by attending to the unique type of rational explanation it gives rise to. When an agent acts or believes for a reason, their action/belief is explained by the reason. An important initial characterisation of what makes these sorts of explanations special is that they involve the exercise of an agent's rational abilities - they encode, in other words, an accomplishment on the agent's part. The project investigates further just what these explanations amount to, and what role precisely is played by the notion of an 'exercise of an ability' in them.

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, German Research Foundation