Normativity: The Place of Reasoning

Philosophical Issues 25 (1):144-164 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


It is more or less common ground that an important aspect of the explanation of normativity relates it to the way Reason (our rational powers), reasons (for beliefs, emotions, actions, etc.) and reasoning, with all its varieties and domains, are inter-connected. The relation of reasoning to reasons is the topic of this this paper. It does not start from a tabula rasa. It presupposes that normativity has to do with the ability to respond rationally to reasons, and with responding to reasons with the use of our rational powers. The question is where does reasoning fit in? I will compare two sketchy accounts of reasoning, judging their success in elucidating the concept and its role in the explanation of normativity. First I outline the view that reasoning is an activity of searching for a justified answer or for a justification of the answer to a question. Some critical reflection on that view leads to what I call the simple account, which takes reasoning to consist (broadly speaking) in responsiveness to perceived reasons. I will illustrate ways in which the simple account is at odds with the concept of reasoning. Its merits depend on the thought that intentions, attempts or actions can be conclusions of reasoning. Those who affirm that possibility often regard reasoning that has such conclusions as practical reasoning. Hence much of the paper will be about practical reasoning. That would lead to a tentative endorsement of reasoning as a search for a justified answer, suggesting a different view of the place of reasoning in explaining normativity.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 89,528

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The special status of instrumental reasons.Stephanie Beardman - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 134 (2):255 - 287.
What is (Correct) Practical Reasoning?Julian Fink - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):471-482.
Practical reasoning.Robert Audi - 1989 - New York: Routledge.
The fixity of reasons.Andre Norman Gallois - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (2):233 - 248.
Analogical Reasoning in Ethics.Georg Spielthenner - 2014 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (5):861-874.
Moral Reasoning.Henry S. Richardson - 2013 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Broome on reasoning.Conor McHugh & Jonathan Way - 2015 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 34 (2).


Added to PP

243 (#73,561)

6 months
42 (#82,913)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Joseph Raz
Columbia University

Citations of this work

The guise of good reason.Ulf Hlobil - 2021 - Philosophical Explorations 24 (2):204-224.
III—Normative Facts and Reasons.Fabienne Peter - 2019 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119 (1):53-75.
The Conclusion of Practical Reasoning.John Brunero - 2021 - The Journal of Ethics 25 (1):13-37.
On Dancy’s account of practical reasoning.Joseph Raz - 2020 - Philosophical Explorations 23 (2):135-145.
The Practicality of Practical Inference.Will Small - 2022 - In Adrian Haddock & Rachael Wiseman (eds.), The Anscombean Mind. New York, NY, USA: pp. 253–290.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome (ed.) - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
What is inference?Paul Boghossian - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (1):1-18.
From Normativity to Responsibility.Joseph Raz - 2011 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Reflection and Responsibility.Pamela Hieronymi - 2014 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 42 (1):3-41.

View all 9 references / Add more references