Constructivism about Practical Reasons

Philosophers commonly wonder what a constructivist theory as applied to practical reasons might look like. For the methods or procedures of reasoning familiar from moral constructivism do not clearly apply generally, to all practical reasons. The paper argues that procedural specification is not necessary, so long as our aims are not first-order but explanatory. We can seek to explain how there could be facts of the matter about reasons for action without saying what reasons we have. Explanatory constructivism must assurne constructive “norms of practical reasoning” which yield particular truths without assuming them. But philosophers often mistakenly assurne that only “formal” norms of reasoning could fulfill this role. The paper describes a further possibility: norms of reasoning can be “situation-specific” and yet retain truth-independent authority. Though we might doubt whether such norms can be independently defended, we should not doubt the possibility or coherence of constructivism about practical reasons.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205
DOI ppr200774276
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