Perverse Reasons

Philosophy 96 (3):457-480 (2021)
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For an agent to be motivated by a normatively perverse reason is to be motivated by a normative or evaluative thought as such which, if true, would count as such against the action that it motivates the agent to perform, or against the attitude that it motivates the agent to take. For example, that an action is morally wrong or prudentially bad counts, as such, against performing the action. When the thought that an action is morally wrong or prudentially bad motivates me as such to perform the action, my motivating reason is normatively perverse. If being motivated by normatively perverse reasons is possible, then what, if anything, is wrong about it? I present and reject some accounts of what may be wrong about normative perversity. In the course of this discussion some desiderata emerge. Then I defend the suggestion that normative perversion is socially undesirable, in that it undermines certain valuable interpersonal and intrapersonal relations. Entering and maintaining these relations is constitutive of valuing people as beings to whom reasonable justification is owed. I show how this account satisfies the desiderata.



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Francesco Orsi
University of Tartu

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References found in this work

What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Desiring the bad: An essay in moral psychology.Michael Stocker - 1979 - Journal of Philosophy 76 (12):738-753.
What is Reasoning?Conor McHugh & Jonathan Way - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):167-196.

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