The essays in this volume explore current work in central areas of philosophy, work unified by attention to salient questions of human action and human agency. They ask what it is for humans to act knowledgeably, to use language, to be friends, to act heroically, to be mortally fortunate, and to produce as well as to appreciate art. The volume is dedicated to J. O. Urmson, in recognition of his inspirational contributions to these areas. All the essays but one have (...) been specially written for this volume. (shrink)
Language, Duty, and Value Jonathan Dancy, J. M. E. Moravcsik James Opie Urmson, Edited by Jonathan Dancy, J. M. E. Moravcsik, and C. C. W. Taylor. reasons in general. This is freedom in the sense of acting on reasons, yet not those ...
The disjunctive theory of perception claims that we should understand statements about how things appear to a perceiver to be equivalent to statements of a disjunction that either one is perceiving such and such or one is suffering an illusion (or hallucination); and that such statements are not to be viewed as introducing a report of a distinctive mental event or state common to these various disjoint situations. When Michael Hinton ﬁrst introduced the idea, he suggested that the burden of (...) proof or disproof lay with his opponent, that what was needed was to show that our talk of how things look or appear to one.. (shrink)
For quite some time now philosophers have stressed the need to distinguish between explanatory (motivating) reasons and justifying (good) reasons. The distinction is often illustrated with an example of someone doing something that is intended to strike the reader or listener, at least at the outset, as incomprehensible. The story of Abraham on Mount Moriah, who decided to sacrifice his son, Isaac, illustrates this pattern. Killing one’s own child is a horrific thing to do, and it is hard to understand (...) what would drive a parent to do such a thing. But once we are informed that Abraham actually believed God had told him to do so, we can see (allegedly) that there is at least an explanation of why he decided to kill his son. In the eyes of most people the planned act remains awful. But once we assume that Abraham was mistaken (say, because the best explanation in this case need not postulate the existence of God), we can see that his decision to kill his son is not a response to a normative good reason.1 So in a few lines we have outlined two reason notions: explanatory and normative (good) reasons. Cases like this afford an intuitive grasp of the distinction between explanatory and normative reasons — the difference between what explains Abraham’s motivation and behaviour and the good or bad reasons that apply to him. However, more recently (see e.g. Dancy 2000) the picture such cases present has been supplemented, or perhaps even corrected. There is a further feature of the Abrahamic story that needs to be teased out — one that gives a finer-grained understanding of what is going on than that provided by talk of the agent’s explanatory reasons. I share this view, and so what I will be doing in this paper is mainly to underline the need to dig a bit deeper. Motivation, as I shall argue, comes in different forms . (shrink)