About this topic
Summary Discussions of moral reasons and reasoning occur in action theory, moral epistemology, meta-ethics, and normative ethics. The papers listed here as laying claim to this categorization therefore represent a broad array of ongoing conversations in philosophy. They ask questions like the following: how do agents apprehend and respond to (weigh, sort, disregard) moral reasons when deliberating about what to do? What is the best way of modeling reasoning in situations of moral conflict? Does moral reasoning include learning from experience, inculcating habits, or changing one's mind? Are moral reasons and their uptake meaningfully distinct from other sorts of practical reasons, and if so, how might this matter?
Key works Some of the most important conversations about moral reasons have been initiated and continued by the work of Joseph Raz, especially (Raz 1975Raz 1999, and Raz 2001).
Introductions The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Moral Reasoning (Richardson 2013) provides an overview of some key issues.
Related categories

233 found
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  1. added 2018-12-31
    Narrative, Casuistry, and the Function of Conscience in Thomas Aquinas.Stephen Chanderbhan - 2016 - Diametros 47:1-18.
    Both the function of one’s conscience, as Thomas Aquinas understands it, and the work of casuistry in general involve deliberating about which universal moral principles are applicable in particular cases. Thus, understanding how conscience can function better also indicates how casuistry might be done better – both on Thomistic terms, at least. I claim that, given Aquinas’ descriptions of certain parts of prudence and the role of moral virtue in practical knowledge, understanding particular cases more as narratives, or parts of (...)
  2. added 2018-12-31
    Aquinas and the Natural Habit of Synderesis: A Response to Celano.Lisa Holdsworth - 2016 - Diametros 47:35-49.
    Anthony Celano argues that after Thomas Aquinas the flexibility of Aristotle’s ethics gives way to the universal codes of Christian morality. His argument posits that the Schoolmen adopted a line of moral reasoning that follows a Platonic tradition of taking universal moral principles as the basis of moral reasoning. While Thomas does work in a tradition that, resemblant of the Platonic tradition, incorporates inerrant principles of moral reasoning in the habit of _synderesis_, his understanding of those principles is distinctly Aristotelian (...)
  3. added 2018-11-01
    Reasons Probably Won’T Change Your Mind: The Role of Reasons in Revising Moral Decisions.Matthew L. Stanley, Ashley M. Dougherty, Brenda W. Yang, Paul Henne & Felipe De Brigard - 2018 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 147 (7):962-987.
    Although many philosophers argue that making and revising moral decisions ought to be a matter of deliberating over reasons, the extent to which the consideration of reasons informs people’s moral decisions and prompts them to change their decisions remains unclear. Here, after making an initial decision in 2-option moral dilemmas, participants examined reasons for only the option initially chosen(affirming reasons), reasons for only the option not initially chosen (opposing reasons), or reasons for both options. Although participants were more likely to (...)
  4. added 2018-09-24
    Using Benevolent Affections to Learn Our Duty.Marina Folescu - 2018 - Mind 127 (506):467-489.
    The puzzle is this: I argue that for Reid, moral sense needs benevolent affections – i.e. some of our animal, non-cognitive principles of action – to apply the rules of duty. But he also thinks that duty can conflict with benevolent affections. So what happens in these conflict cases? I will argue that Reid takes moral psychology seriously and that he believes that our natural benevolent affections can be used as indicators of duty. Although creative, his account has a major (...)
  5. added 2018-09-24
    Motivation and Motivating Reason.Toni Rønnow-Rasmussen - 2013 - In Christer Svennerlind, Jan Almäng & Rögnvaldur Ingthorsson (eds.), Johanssonian Investigations. Ontos Verlag. pp. 464--485.
  6. added 2018-09-17
    It Only Takes Two to Tango: Against Grounding Morality in Interaction.Sem de Maagt - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-17.
    Most Kantian constructivists try to ground universal duties of interpersonal morality in certain interactions between individuals, such as communication, argumentation, shared action or the second-person standpoint. The goal of this paper is to present these, which I refer to as arguments from the second-person perspective, with a dilemma: either the specific kind of interaction that is taken as a starting point of these arguments is inescapable, but in that case the argument does not justify a universal principle of interpersonal morality. (...)
  7. added 2018-08-24
    All Reasons Are Moral.Daniel Muñoz - manuscript
    I argue that the distinction between moral (“deontic”) and non-moral (“enticing”) reasons is a bogus one, and that “reasons first” approaches to ethics can’t account for the optionality of prudent self-care (flossing one’s teeth) or supererogatory gifts (of favors and kidneys). Non-moral reasons are, by definition, those that can’t ground moral obligations, even when unopposed by other reasons. But all reasons can ground obligations. When our unopposed reasons of self-interest, e.g., leave things optional, that isn’t due to a lack of (...)
  8. added 2018-07-30
    Towards an Ecumenical Theory of Normative Reasons.Caj Sixten Strandberg - 2018 - Dialectica 72 (1):69-100.
    A theory of normative reasons for action faces the fundamental challenge of accounting for the dual nature of reasons. On the one hand, some reasons appear to depend on, and vary with, desires. On the other hand, some reasons appear categorical in the sense of being desire‐independent. However, it has turned out to be difficult to provide a theory that accommodates both these aspects. Internalism is able to account for the former aspect, but has difficulties to account for the latter, (...)
  9. added 2018-07-09
    Normative Reasons and Theism.Gerald K. Harrison - 2018 - Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.
  10. added 2018-06-22
    Reasons in Moral Philosophy.Carla Bagnoli - 2018 - In G. Bongiovanni, Don Postema, A. Rotolo, G. Sartor, C. Valentini & D. Walton (eds.), Handbook in Legal Reasoning and Argumentation. New York: Springer.
  11. added 2018-06-10
    Rawls’s Justification Model for Ethics: What Exactly Does It Justify?Necip Fikri Alican - 2017 - Humanitas (Journal of the National Humanities Institute) 30 (1/2):112–147.
    John Rawls is famous for two things: his attempt to ground morality in rationality and his conception of justice as fairness. He has developed and polished both in conjunction over the course of half a century. Yet the moral principles he advocates have always been more doctrinaire than the corresponding justification model should have ever allowed with design details explicitly promising objectivity. This article goes to the beginning, or to a reasonable proxy for it, in the “Outline of a Decision (...)
  12. added 2018-03-23
    Moral Bioenhancement, Freedom and Reason.Ingmar Persson & Julian Savulescu - 2016 - Neuroethics 9 (3):263-268.
    In this paper we reply to the most important objections to our advocacy of moral enhancement by biomedical means – moral bioenhancement – that John Harris advances in his new book How to be Good. These objections are to effect that such moral enhancement undercuts both moral reasoning and freedom. The latter objection is directed more specifically at what we have called the God Machine, a super-duper computer which predicts our decisions and prevents decisions to perpertrate morally atrocious acts. In (...)
  13. added 2018-03-22
    Review of "Moral Particularism". [REVIEW]P. Vayrynen - 2002 - Philosophical Review 111 (3):478-483.
  14. added 2018-03-17
    Moral Perception, Cognition, and Dialogue.Vojko Strahovnik - 2016 - Santalka: Filosofija, Komunikacija 24 (1):14-23.
    The aim of the paper is to analyse the concept of moral perception. Moral perception gets characterized as a distinctive, non-inferential moral response to concrete situations. In order to relate moral perception with a suitable model of moral cognition the position labelled morphological rationalism is elaborated. Moral judgment follows a dynamical model of reasons, according to which reasons are situated in an agent’s structured morphological background, chromatically illuminating the judgment. The key claim is that such a model is particularly well-suited (...)
  15. added 2018-03-09
    Notwendigkeit und Nötigung: Konzeptionelle und moralpsychologische Gründe für eine hybride Theorie des moralischen Sollens.Michael Von Grundherr - 2013 - In Achim Vesper & Eva Buddeberg (eds.), Moral und Sanktion: Eine Kontroverse über die Autorität moralischer Normen. Frankfurt, New York: campus. pp. 53-73.
  16. added 2018-03-05
    Ethics and Uncertainty: The Guest Editor’s Introduction.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2017 - Diametros 53:1-5.
    Until very recently, normative theorizing in ethics was frequently conducted without even mentioning uncertainty. Just a few years ago, Sven Ove Hansson described this state of affairs with the slogan: “Ethics still lives in a Newtonian world.” In the new Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Probability, David McCarthy writes that “mainstream moral philosophy has not been much concerned with probability,” understanding probability as “the best-known tool for thinking about uncertainty.” This special predilection for certainty in ethics was surprising since most (...)
  17. added 2018-02-05
    What Is Conventionalism About Moral Rights and Duties?Katharina Nieswandt - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-14.
    ABSTRACTA powerful objection against moral conventionalism says that it gives the wrong reasons for individual rights and duties. The reason why I must not break my promise to you, for example, should lie in the damage to you—rather than to the practice of promising or to all other participants in that practice. Common targets of this objection include the theories of Hobbes, Gauthier, Hooker, Binmore, and Rawls. I argue that the conventionalism of these theories is superficial; genuinely conventionalist theories are (...)
  18. added 2018-01-12
    Eliminating Prudential Reasons.Alex Worsnip - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 8.
    I argue, contrary to the consensus of most contemporary work in ethics, that there are no (fundamentally, distinctively) prudential reasons for action. That is to say: there is no class of reasons for action that is distinctively and fundamentally about the promotion of the agent’s own well-being. Considerations to do with the agent’s well-being can supply the agent with reasons only in virtue of her well-being mattering morally or in virtue of her caring about her own well-being. In both of (...)
  19. added 2018-01-08
    La dimensión ética de la ciencia según Mariano Artigas.Rubén Herce - 2016 - Scientia et Fides 4 (2):137-154.
    The Ethical Dimension of Science According to Mariano Artigas: Many authors have written, from different approaches, about the relationships between ethics and science. In this work, we analyze how Mariano Artigas did it. He gives great importance to ethics, which he considers a philosophical presupposition of scientific activity. A detailed analysis of his work allows to understand to what extent ethics is important for science. Specifically, we consider the relationships of ethics with humans and with science; the interweaving and the (...)
  20. added 2017-12-16
    Jean Hampton, The Authority of Reason:The Authority of Reason.Simon Blackburn - 2000 - Ethics 110 (3):619-621.
  21. added 2017-12-11
    "Utilité de la théologie naturelle pour la connaissance de Dieu aujourd’hui" [Usefulness of Natural Theology for God's Knowledge Today].Philippe Gagnon - 2017 - Connaître : Cahiers de l'Association Foi Et Culture Scientifique (48):83-92.
    In this public debate with Philippe Deterre (research director in immunology at the CNRS) – held at l'Enclos Rey in Paris' 15th district during the biennial Conference of the Réseau Blaise Pascal in March 2017 –, I defended the usefulness of natural theology. I first clarify theology's nature and understanding, then I speak about a tradition that upheld the public and exterior knowledge of God, and make an effort to show the presence of a theme reminiscent of natural theology behind (...)
  22. added 2017-12-08
    Diskursethik: Theorien, Entwicklungen, Perspektiven.Niels Gottschalk-Mazouz - 2000 - De Gruyter.
    The book discusses recent developments in Discourse Ethics and argues for a new proposal of how to spell out its core ideas. It finds that its basic principles ("D" and "U") are too specific: they focus on norms, identify those affected with those participating in discourse and use the narrow vocabulary of interests and consequences. It proposes instead: (D1) Only those claims are valid that can be defended against any objection of any possible agent. Discourse Ethics should be understood as (...)
  23. added 2017-11-10
    Darwall on Action and the Idea of a Second-Personal Reason.Fabian Börchers - 2014 - Philosophical Topics 42 (1):243-270.
    In his seminal book, The Second-Person Standpoint, Stephen Darwall argues that second-personal reasons can only occur within the realm of practical reason. In order to demonstrate this, Darwall builds on David Velleman’s distinction between substantive and formal aims of thought and action. I show that this distinction shapes Darwall’s conception of the nature of the difference between third-personal and second-personal reasons in such a way that the difference is conceived of as substantive rather than formal. As a consequence, Darwall is (...)
  24. added 2017-10-31
    Beatrix Himmelmann/ Robert B. Louden (Hg.): Why Be Moral? [REVIEW]Lukas Naegeli - 2016 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 70 (3):456-460.
  25. added 2017-10-17
    Counterfeit Self: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis Among Indonesians.Juneman Abraham, Bagus Takwin & Julia Suleeman - forthcoming - Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences:1-8.
    It is questionable whether counterfeiting in many areas of life contributes to unethical behavior to a wider extent. If the notion is supported by data, then the moral damage in a society could be prevented by reducing the counterfeit self and behavior to a bare minimum. This study aimed at empirically testing the measurement model of counterfeit self of Wood et al. (2008) among Indonesians as well as theoretically reviewing counterfeit self roles in unethical behavior. The participants of this study (...)
  26. added 2017-10-17
    Reasoning with Reasons.Daniel Star - forthcoming - In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-59.
  27. added 2017-10-17
    Introduction.Daniel Star - forthcoming - In The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  28. added 2017-09-19
    Do Reasons and Evidence Share the Same Residence?Clayton Littlejohn - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (3):720-727.
    This is part of an authors meets critics session on Daniel Star's wonderful book, Knowing Better. I discuss a potential problem with Kearns and Star's Reasons as Evidence thesis. The issue has to do with the difficulties we face is we treat normative reasons as evidence and impose no possession conditions on evidence. On such a view, it's hard to see how practical reasoning could be a non-monotonic process. One way out of the difficulty would be to allow for (potent) (...)
  29. added 2017-08-02
    What Matters and How It Matters: A Choice-Theoretic Representation of Moral Theories.Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (4):421-479.
    We present a new “reason-based” approach to the formal representation of moral theories, drawing on recent decision-theoretic work. We show that any moral theory within a very large class can be represented in terms of two parameters: a specification of which properties of the objects of moral choice matter in any given context, and a specification of how these properties matter. Reason-based representations provide a very general taxonomy of moral theories, as differences among theories can be attributed to differences in (...)
  30. added 2017-07-17
    Sound Advice and Internal Reasons.Ariela Tubert - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (2):181-199.
    Reasons internalism holds that reasons for action contain an essential connection with motivation. I defend an account of reasons internalism based on the advisor model. The advisor model provides an account of reasons for action in terms of the advice of a more rational version of the agent. Contrary to Pettit and Smith's proposal and responding to Sobel's and Johnson's objections, I argue that the advisor model can provide an account of internal reasons and that it is too caught up (...)
  31. added 2017-05-30
    Introduction: Virtue's Reasons.Noell Birondo & S. Stewart Braun - 2017 - In Noell Birondo & S. Stewart Braun (eds.), Virtue's Reasons: New Essays on Virtue, Character, and Reasons. New York: Routledge. pp. 1-7.
    Over the past thirty years or so, virtues and reasons have emerged as two of the most fruitful and important concepts in contemporary moral philosophy. Virtue theory and moral psychology, for instance, are currently two burgeoning areas of philosophical investigation that involve different, but clearly related, focuses on individual agents’ responsiveness to reasons. The virtues themselves are major components of current ethical theories whose approaches to substantive or normative issues remain remarkably divergent in other respects. The virtues are also increasingly (...)
  32. added 2017-05-22
    Daniel Star, Knowing Better. [REVIEW]Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  33. added 2017-05-01
    Good Moral Judgment and Decision‐Making Without Deliberation.Asia Ferrin - 2017 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):68-95.
    It is widely accepted in psychology and cognitive science that there are two “systems” in the mind: one system is characterized as quick, intuitive, perceptive, and perhaps more primitive, while the other is described as slower, more deliberative, and responsible for our higher-order cognition. I use the term “reflectivism” to capture the view that conscious reflection—in the “System 2” sense—is a necessary feature of good moral judgment and decision-making. This is not to suggest that System 2 must operate alone in (...)
  34. added 2017-03-09
    Putting Together Morality and Well-Being.Ruth Chang - 2004 - In Peter Baumann & Monika Betzler (eds.), Practical Conflicts: New Philosophical Essays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 118--158.
    Conflicts between morality and prudence are often thought to pose a special problem because the normativity of moral considerations derives from a distinctively moral point of view, while the normativity of prudential considerations derives from a distinctively prudential point of view, and there is no way to ‘put together’ the two points of view. I argue that talk of points of view is a red herring, and that for any ‘prumoral’ conflict there is some or other more comprehensive value – (...)
  35. added 2017-02-20
    The Second-Person Standpoint: Morality, Respect and Accountability. [REVIEW]Monika Piotrowska - 2007 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):142-146.
  36. added 2017-02-07
    Doing Things for Reasons.Christopher Megone - 2004 - Philosophical Books 45 (2):149-153.
  37. added 2017-02-03
    Weak Reasons-Responsiveness Meets its Match: In Defense of David Widerker's Attack on PAP.Ira M. Schnall - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (2):271 - 283.
    David Widerker, long an opponent of Harry Frankfurt's attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), has recently come up with his own Frankfurt-style scenario which he claims might well be a counterexample to PAP. Carlos Moya has argued that this new scenario is not a counterexample to PAP, because in it the agent is not really blameworthy, since he lacks weak reasonsresponsiveness (WRR), a property that John Fischer has argued is a necessary condition of practical rationality, and hence of (...)
  38. added 2017-01-30
    Giving Up, Expecting Hope, and Moral Transformation.Kathryn J. Norlock - 2017 - Reasonable Responses: The Thought of Trudy Govier.
    Trudy Govier (FR) argues for “conditional unforgivability,” yet avers that we should never give up on a human being. She not only says it is justifiable to take a “hopeful and respectful attitude” toward one’s wrongdoers, she indicates that it is wrong not to; she says it is objectionable to adopt an attitude that any individual is “finally irredeemable” or “could never change,” because such an attitude “anticipates and communicates the worst” (137). Govier’s recommendation to hold a hopeful attitude seems (...)
  39. added 2017-01-29
    Simpatia ed etica: in difesa della prospettiva humeana.Greco Lorenzo - 2016 - I Castelli di Yale 4 (2):1–14.
  40. added 2017-01-20
    Moral Philosophy Does Not Rest on a Mistake: Reasons to Be Moral Revisited.Sam Black Evan Tiffany - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (5):pp. vii-xl.
  41. added 2017-01-19
    Reasoning with Moral Conflicts.John F. Horty - 2003 - Noûs 37 (4):557–605.
    Let us say that a normative conflict is a situation in which an agent ought to perform an action A, and also ought to perform an action B, but in which it is impossible for the agent to perform both A and B. Not all normative conflicts are moral conflicts, of course. It may be that the agent ought to perform the action A for reasons of personal generosity, but ought to perform the action B for reasons of prudence: perhaps (...)
  42. added 2017-01-15
    Non-Negotiable: Why Moral Naturalism Cannot Do Away with Categorical Reasons.Andrés Carlos Luco - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2511-2528.
    Some versions of moral naturalism are faulted for implausibly denying that moral obligations and prescriptions entail categorical reasons for action. Categorical reasons for action are normative reasons that exist and apply to agents independently of whatever desires they have. I argue that several defenses of moral naturalism against this charge are unsuccessful. To be a tenable meta-ethical theory, moral naturalism must accommodate the proposition that, necessarily, if anyone morally ought to do something, then s/he has a categorical reason to do (...)
  43. added 2017-01-14
    Weighting Surprise Parties: Some Problems for Schroeder.Olle Risberg - 2016 - Utilitas 28 (1):101-107.
    In this article I argue against Schroeder's account of the weight of normative reasons. It is shown that in certain cases an agent may have reasons she cannot know about without them ceasing to be reasons, and also reasons she cannot know about at all. Both possibilities are troubling for Schroeder's view.
  44. added 2017-01-14
    Joshua Gert, Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality, and Reasons , Pp. X + 218.Errol Lord - 2015 - Utilitas 27 (2):251-254.
  45. added 2017-01-14
    Direct Moral Grounding and the Legal Model of Moral Normativity.Benjamin Alan Sachs - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):703-716.
    Whereas most moral philosophers believe that the facts as to what we’re morally required to do are grounded by the facts about our moral reasons, which in turn are grounded by non-normative facts, I propose that moral requirements are directly grounded by non-normative facts. This isn’t, however, to say that there is no place in the picture for moral reasons. Moral reasons exist, and they’re grounded by moral requirements. Arguing for this picture of the moral sphere requires playing both offense (...)
  46. added 2017-01-14
    Is the Overridingness of Moral Reasons a Semantic Fact?Héctor Wittwer - 2015 - In Robert Louden & Beatrix Himmelmann (eds.), Why Be Moral? De Gruyter. pp. 235-248.
  47. added 2017-01-10
    Value Realism and the Internalism/Externalism Debate.Ernesto V. Garcia - 2004 - Philosophical Studies 117 (1-2):231-258.
  48. added 2016-12-12
    What Does Holism Have to Do with Moral Particularism?Sean McKeever & Michael Ridge - 2005 - Ratio 18 (1):93–103.
    Moral particularists are united in their opposition to the codification of morality, and their work poses an important challenge to traditional ways of thinking about moral philosophy. Defenders of moral particularism have, with near unanimity, sought support from a doctrine they call “holism in the theory of reasons.” We argue that this is all a mistake. There are two ways in which holism in the theory of reasons can be understood, but neither provides any support for moral particularism. Moral particularists (...)
  49. added 2016-12-12
    Practical Conflicts: New Philosophical Essays.Peter Baumann & Monika Betzler (eds.) - 2004 - Cambridge University Press.
    Practical conflicts pervade human life. Agents have many different desires, goals, and commitments, all of which can come into conflict with each other. How can practical reasoning help to resolve these practical conflicts? In this collection of essays a distinguished roster of philosophers analyse the diverse forms of practical conflict. Their aim is to establish an understanding of the sources of these conflicts, to investigate the challenge they pose to an adequate conception of practical reasoning, and to assess the degree (...)
  50. added 2016-12-12
    Facts, Values, and Norms: Essays Toward a Morality of Consequence.Peter Railton - 2003 - Cambridge University Press.
    In our everyday lives we struggle with the notions of why we do what we do and the need to assign values to our actions. Somehow, it seems possible through experience and life to gain knowledge and understanding of such matters. Yet once we start delving deeper into the concepts that underwrite these domains of thought and actions, we face a philosophical disappointment. In contrast to the world of facts, values and morality seem insecure, uncomfortably situated, easily influenced by illusion (...)
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