The Voices of Reason

American Philosophical Quarterly 42 (1):33 - 45 (2005)
Abstract
It is widely held that instrumental reasoning to a practical conclusion is parasitic on non-instrumental practical reasoning. This conclusion is based on the claim that when there is no reason to adopt a certain end, there is no reason to take the means (qua means) to that end. But, as will be argued, while there is a sense of reason according to which the previous statement is true, there is another sense according to which it is false. Furthermore, in both of the relevant senses of reason, it is true that reasons are considerations that ground correct conclusions of practical deliberation and correct advice. It follows that instrumental reasoning to a practical conclusion is not invariably parasitic on non-instrumental practical reasoning. The view that it is results from combining the idea that when there is no reason to adopt a certain end, there is no reason to take the means (qua means) to that end, with the common but faulty assumption that considerations that ground correct conclusions of practical deliberation and correct advice are all reasons in a single sense (sometimes referred to as the normative sense of reason). The assumption in question is implicit in, for example, the work of John Broome, T. M. Scanlon, Christine Korsgaard, and Stephen Darwall.1 Given the common identification of normative reasons with considerations that ground correct conclusions of practical deliberation and correct advice, the position that will be defended in this paper can be expressed by saying that there is not one but two senses of reason for which it is true that reasons are normative..
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