Reply to Bratman and Smith

Analysis 69 (3):531-540 (2009)
To begin with, I am deeply grateful to Michael Bratman and Michael Smith for their generosity in responding to my book, for the care with which they have read it, and for the challenge of meeting their objections. I am also grateful for their support and encouragement over the years. It is a pleasure to engage with them here.Because their comments raise many related difficulties, this reply will treat them together, beginning with brief consideration of issues in action theory before turning to Reasons and rationalism. It will also be incomplete: there is much more to say about these problems than can be said in this space.Bratman's discussion poses a structural question: how far does my argument about reason and virtue in Part Two of the book depend on the principle of Belief and the cognitive theory of intention from Part One? His answer is: quite a bit. But this is not straightforward. If we reject Belief, our account of acting for reasons becomes more minimal. This would make it more difficult to derive standards of practical reason from the nature of agency, as the rationalist purports to do. If I am right to argue that rationalism and the virtue theory are exhaustive alternatives, it therefore makes the virtue theory of practical reason easier to defend. My Anscombean assumptions are in fact a concession to some of the ideas that motivate rationalists like Korsgaard and Velleman – though not, as we will see, either Bratman or Smith. Denying them makes more trouble for the ethical views that I oppose than it does for mine. 1What does matter to my argument is that when we act intentionally, or for reasons, we need not do so ‘under the guise of the good’, since the doctrine that we must …
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anp083
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References found in this work BETA
Kit Fine (1994). Essence and Modality. Philosophical Perspectives 8:1-16.
Stephen Yablo (1992). Mental Causation. Philosophical Review 101 (2):245-280.

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Kieran Setiya (2014). What is a Reason to Act? Philosophical Studies 167 (2):221-235.

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