Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality

Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):341-361 (2016)
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Abstract

It is standard, both in the philosophical literature and in ordinary parlance, to assume that one can fall short of responding to all one’s moral reasons without being irrational. Yet when we turn to epistemic reasons, the situation could not be more different. Most epistemologists take it as axiomatic that for a belief to be rational is for it to be well-supported by epistemic reasons. We find ourselves with a striking asymmetry, then, between the moral and epistemic domains concerning what is taken for granted about whether failures to respond to reasons are failures of rationality. My aim in this paper is to interrogate this asymmetry, and ultimately to argue that the asymmetry is groundless. Instead, I will offer an error theory to explain the asymmetry in intuitions. This error theory suggests that we should amend the conventional wisdom about the relationship between epistemic reasons and rationality.

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Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Citations of this work

The Conflict of Evidence and Coherence.Alex Worsnip - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 96 (1):3-44.
Structural Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter & Alex Worsnip - 2023 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Real Myth of Coherence.Wooram Lee - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (3):1211-1230.
Can the aim of belief ground epistemic normativity?Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (12):3181-3198.
Reasons for action: Internal vs. external.Stephen Finlay & Mark Schroeder - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Rationality Through Reasoning.John Broome (ed.) - 2013 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Knowledge in an uncertain world.Jeremy Fantl & Matthew McGrath - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Matthew McGrath.

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