Macintyre And Determinism Behavior is quite an interesting aspect of man to observe. All day long we demonstrate diverse types of behavior, from eating certain foods to speaking in certain ways. But of most interest is rational behavior. Behavior is rational if, and only if, it can be influenced, or inhibited by the adducing of some logically relevant consideration. (p.297) In his essay MacIntyre tries to show us that rational behavior is not causally determined, but that it comes out of our free will. The discovery of causal explanations for our actions, and the like, shows, or tries to show, that we could not have done other than what we did. From this, then, there would be no point to morality, which has been at the forefront of human thought for ages. But then again, to say the human behavior is inexplicable is to deny all that we have learned from the sciences.
We have already given the definition for rational behavior, but in this definition we find a point which must be clarified, that of a logically relevant consideration. What exactly is a logically relevant consideration? Well, that is logically relevant will necessarily vary from case to case. And it can vary so much that MacIntyre even goes as far as saying that the task of philosophy might almost be defined as the task of defining ‘logical relevance’. (p. 297) Rational behavior is then said to be defined with reference to the possibility of altering it by some logically relevant consideration. Thus, to show that a behavior is rational is enough to show that it is not causally determined, in the sense of it being the effect of certain conditions outside of a person’s control.
Being that there is rational behavior, it must follow that there is such a thing non-rational behavior. Non-rational behavior is, of course, behavior which does not take logically relevant considerations into account. Such an act can be said to be impulsive. As in all philosophical discourse the opposing party usually proposes a counter-attack. In this case, the determinist has launched a three-stage counter attack against free actions. Firstly the determinist argues that, in the widest sense of the word cause, the giving of a reason may function as a cause.
MacIntyre argues against this by saying that to act because you were given reasons to act would not necessarily be to act in a causally determined way. (p. 299) For, in terms of the concept of rational behavior, we can certainly differentiate between a giving of reasons which is causally effective and a giving of reasons which is rationally effective. The determinist then moves to the second stage of his argument. He will say that there are empirical grounds for believing that we can always be mistaken about rational behavior.
It may seem like the behavior is influenced by rational considerations when, in fact, it is completely determined by antecedent causes. To disprove this MacIntyre says that such antecedent causes would only determine the event in the absence of logically relevant conditions. In other words, if a logically relevant idea were offered to contradict the event about to take place, it is most likely that reason would take over and prevent that event from occurring. We now come to the determinist final attempt to disprove the act of free will. He might suggest that advances in learning theory, for example, might teach us that rational, intelligent behavior was nothing more than well-drilled behavior, of which a complete causal account could be given, only provided that that account was sufficiently complex.
(p. 300) But how can this be? There are two problems in this suggestion. For one thing, a man might one day decide to stop being immoral. He may weigh out the pros and cons of a situation and decide to go with what is moral. Secondly, if determinism is to rest its hopes on such a complex pattern of explanation then it becomes very hard to either verify or disprove it.
MacIntyre provides us with an example. Suppose that the determinist is able to formulate a complete explanation of my behavior in causal terms. But also suppose that my behavior is rational. Now what test can determine whether I acted because I was rational or because my behavior was just causally determined? Determinism, as can be seen, is not the best of arguments. It can work in some instances, but not in all, which is what it proposes to do.
Some actions can be determined just by causal explanations, but these are only very few. Philosophy Essays.