Internal reasons and practical limits on rational deliberation

Philosophical Explorations 9 (2):163 – 177 (2006)
Could someone who wants a gin and tonic have a normative reason to drink petrol and tonic? Bernard Williams and Michael Smith both say, 'No'. They argue that what an agent has normative reason to do is determined by rational deliberation that involves correcting the agent's beliefs and current motivations. On such an account of normative reasons, an agent who is motivated to act in some way due to a false belief does not have reason to act in that way. I argue that the agent could have reason to drink the petrol, because an agent's epistemic circumstances, what that agent can come to know, can be as relevant to what the agent has reason to do as other aspects of his circumstances. Moreover, if an agent's epistemic circumstances are taken into account when determining what the agent has reason to do, this can still give an account of reasons that is normative, ensures that the agent and onlookers agree on what the agent has reason to do, is appropriately connected to rationality and fairly represents the agent's beliefs about the knowledge they need to have to know how they have reason to act.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/13869790600641855
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 20,887
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Bernard Williams (1979). Internal and External Reasons. In Ross Harrison (ed.), Rational Action. Cambridge University Press 101-113.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
R. Jay Wallace (1999). Three Conceptions of Rational Agency. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (3):217-242.
Stephen Darwall (2003). Desires, Reasons, and Causes. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2):436–443.
Bruno Verbeek (2007). Rational Self-Commitment. In Fabienne Peter & Hans Bernhard Schmidt (eds.), rationality and commitment. OUP Oxford
Pamela Hieronymi (2011). Reasons for Action. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 111 (3pt3):407-427.
Daan Evers (2009). Humean Agent-Neutral Reasons? Philosophical Explorations 12 (1):55 – 67.
Stephen Finlay (2006). The Reasons That Matter. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):1 – 20.
Jeffrey S. Seidman (2003). Rationality and Reflection. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 6 (2):201-214.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

40 ( #103,263 of 1,907,337 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #466,442 of 1,907,337 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.