Wesley Salmon Memorial Lecture with Peter Railton

March 28, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:30pm

Title:  "Explaining Actions"
Abstract: Wesley Salmon developed and defended a causal theory of explanation in the natural sciences, emphasizing the role of elucidating underlying processes.  He was unsure, however, whether this theory could be extended to psychology.  In this he was hardly alone, and attempts to build a causal theory of action have encountered a host of difficulties.  I will be arguing that one source of these difficulties has been an insufficiently rich understanding of the components of action, and especially of the nature of beliefs and desires.  A philosophically and empirically more adequate account of belief and desire can, I will argue, revive the prospects for a theory of the explanation of action in terms of causal processes.  

Wesley C. Salmon joined the Department of Philosophy as Professor and Chair in 1981. He held the rank of University Professor from 1983 until his retirement in 1999. He exerted a profound influence over philosophy of science as it was practiced in Pittsburgh and internationally. His investigations into scientific explanation, causality, probability and induction and the philosophy of space and time provide a model of insight and clarity, in both thought and word. He set an example personally through his unfailing integrity and kindness. He died in 2001. His memory survives through the scholars who study his work and the many who remember him personally, with respect and admiration.The Wesley C. Salmon Memorial Lecture Fund has been established to support an annual lecture by a prominent scholar in philosophy of science in honor of Wesley Salmon.