Demotic logic: Causal discourse and the structure of explanations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study examines the explanations of human action which occur in the statements and conversations of ordinary people. Such explanations are contrasted with social scientists’ and philosophers’ claims about the structure of explanations. Two forms of explanation identified by philosophical analysts - deterministic and voluntaristic -are detected in everyday discourse. Rather than appearing to be mutually exclusive, as philosophical thought suggests,, these explanatory forms freely co-exist since they tend to be deployed in different contexts and because their formal properties are sufficiently similar to mask any potential contradictions between them. Everyday explanations of action can thus be seen to follow a contextual and interactive logic.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-203
Number of pages23
JournalTEXT: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of Discourse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987


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