Conflicting reasons, unconflicting ‘ought’s

Philosophical Studies 173 (3):629-663 (2016)
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Abstract

One of the popular albeit controversial ideas in the last century of moral philosophy is that what we ought to do is explained by our reasons. And one of the central features of reasons that accounts for their popularity among normative theorists is that they can conflict. But I argue that the fact that reasons conflict actually also poses two closely related problems for this popular idea in moral philosophy. The first problem is a generalization of a problem in deontic logic concerning the existence of conflicting obligations. The second problem arises from a tension between the fact that reasons can conflict and a model of how reasons explain ‘ought’s that has been widely accepted. Having presented each of these problems, I develop a unified solution to them that is informed by results in both ethics and deontic logic. An important implication of this solution is that we must distinguish between derivative and nonderivative reasons and revise our conception how it is that reasons explain ‘ought’s

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Shyam Nair
Arizona State University

Citations of this work

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
On What Matters: Two-Volume Set.Derek Parfit - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Ethics without principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - New York: Oxford University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
The possibility of altruism.Thomas Nagel - 1970 - Oxford,: Clarendon P..

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