Against Strong Cognitivism: An Argument from the Particularity of Love

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (3):563-596 (2014)
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Abstract

According to the view we may term “strong cognitivism”, all reasons for action are rooted in normative features that the motivated subject takes objects to have independently of her attitudes towards these objects. The main concern of this paper is to argue against strong cognitivism, that is, to establish the view that conative attitudes do provide subjects with reasons for action. The central argument to this effect is a top-down argument: it proceeds by an analysis of the complex phenomenon of love and derives a conclusion regarding the nature of more basic mental phenomena—particular desires. More specifically, its starting point is the crude intuition that the significance conferred by love upon its objects is of a distinctively personal kind—an intuition that is expressed by the apparent non-substitutability of two similar subjects only one of whom is loved with respect to their importance for the lover. I argue that the initial notion of non-substitutability can be refined and modified so as to form a real challenge to all versions of strong cognitivism and to establish the existence of attitude-dependent reasons.

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Hilla Jacobson
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
The View From Nowhere.Thomas Nagel - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The Morality of Freedom.Joseph Raz - 1986 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

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