As Kant claimed in the Groundwork, and as the idea has been developed by Korsgaard 1997, Bratman 1987, and Broome 2002. This formulation is agnostic on whether reasons for ends derive from our desiring those ends, or from the relation of those ends to things of independent value. However, desire-based theorists may deny, against Hubin 1999, that their theory is a combination of a principle of instrumental transmission and the principle that reasons for ends are provided by desires. (...) Instead, they may say, there is just one principle, a principle of, if you will, instrumental transmutation: if one desires the end, then one has reason to take the means. See the discussion of General Production, in section 8, for a doubt about this. (shrink)
This paper is a response to two sets of published criticisms of the 'Reasons as Evidence’ thesis concerning normative reasons, proposed and defended in earlier papers. According to this thesis, a fact is a normative reason for an agent to Φ just in case this fact is evidence that this agent ought to Φ. John Broome and John Brunero have presented a number of challenging criticisms of this thesis which focus, for the most part, on problems that it (...) appears to confront when it comes to the topic of the weighing of reasons. Our paper responds to all of the criticisms that these critics have provided, shedding fresh light on this interesting topic in the process. (shrink)
What is involved in weighing normative reasons against each other? One attractive answer offers us the following Simple Picture: a fact is a reason for action when it bears to an action the normative relation of counting in its favour; this relation comes in different strengths or weights; the weights of the reasons for and against an action can be summed; the reasons for performing the action are sufficient when no other action is more strongly supported, (...) overall; the reasons are decisive when it is most strongly supported; one ought to perform the action there is most reason to perform; rational deliberation is weighingreasons correctly; and acting rationally is doing what one has sufficient reasons to do. This chapter investigates various ways in which, on examination, this Simple Picture appears to require modification and refinement. It examines some of the ways in which talk of the weight of a reason may need improvement, looks more closely at the relationship between reasons and rationality, and asks whether there are ways in which a reason can be defeated which are not kinds of outweighing. The conclusion is that while in some respects the Simple Picture does need to be corrected, in others the jury is out. (shrink)
What, normatively speaking, are the grounds of rational choice? This paper defends ‘comparativism’, the view that a comparative fact grounds rational choice. It examines three of the most serious challenges to comparativism: 1) that sometimes what grounds rational choice is an exclusionary-type relation among alternatives; 2) that an absolute fact such as that it’s your duty or conforms to the Categorial Imperative grounds rational choice; and 3) that rational choice between incomparables is possible, and in particular, all that is needed (...) for the possibility of rational choice is that one alternative is not worse than the others. Each challenge is questioned. If comparativism is correct, then no matter what normative theory you favor, your answer to the question, ‘What makes my choice rational?’ must be comparative in form. In this way, comparativism provides a framework for normative theorizing. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that we can give a plausible account of how to compare pragmatic and evidential normative reasons for belief. The account I offer is given in the form of a ‘defeasing function’. This function allows for a sophisticated comparison of the two types of reasons without assigning complex features to the logical structures of either type of reason.
Normative reasons have become a popular theoretical tool in recent decades. One helpful feature of normative reasons is their weight. The fourteen new essays in this book theorize about many different aspects of weight. Topics range from foundational issues to applications of weight in debates across philosophy.
In his important recent book Schroeder proposes a Humean theory of reasons that he calls hypotheticalism. His rigourous account of the weight of reasons is crucial to his theory, both as an element of the theory and constituting his defence to powerful standard objections to Humean theories of reasons. In this paper I examine that rigourous account and show it to face problems of vacuity and consonance. There are technical resources that may be brought to bear on (...) the problem of vacuity but implementation is not simple and philosophical motivation a further difficulty. Even supposing vacuity is fixed, the problems of consonance bring to light a different obstruction lying in Schroeder’s path. There is a difference between the general weighing of reasons and the context specificity of the correct placing of weight on them in deliberation and this difference cannot be fixed by the resources in the account. For these reasons we are still waiting for a plausible Humean theory of reasons. (shrink)
This paper explores various subtleties in our ordinary thought and talk about normative reasons—subtleties which, if taken seriously, have various upshots, both substantive and methodological. I focus on two subtleties in particular. The first concerns the use of reason (in its normative sense) as both a count noun and as a mass noun, and the second concerns the context-sensitivity of normative reasons-claims. The more carefully we look at the language of reasons, I argue, the clearer its limitations (...) and liabilities become. The cumulative upshot is that although talk of reasons is intelligible and useful for the purposes of communication, we should be wary of placing much weight on it when engaging in substantive normative inquiry. By way of illustration, I consider some potential pitfalls of taking our talk of reasons too seriously, explaining how careful attention to the language of reasons undermines the main argument for moral particularism, Mark Schroeder’s recent defense of Humeanism about practical reasons, and the “reasons-first” program in metanormativity. (shrink)
Can a normative reason be understood as a kind of explanation? I here consider and argue against two important analyses of reasons as explanations. John Broome argues that we can analyze reasons in terms of the concepts of explanation and ought. On his view, reasons to ϕ are either facts that explain why one ought to ϕ (what he calls “perfect reasons”) or facts that play a for-ϕ role in weighing explanations (what he calls “pro (...) tanto reasons”). I argue against Broome’s account of both perfect and pro tanto reasons. Other philosophers, including Joseph Raz, analyze reasons in terms of the concepts of explanation and good. On this view, some fact is a reason to ϕ if and only if that fact explains why ϕ-ing would be good in some respect, to some degree. This view avoids the objections to Broome’s view, but should be rejected since not all explanations of why ϕ-ing would be good constitute reasons to ϕ. (shrink)
This book develops a view, welfare pluralism, which comprises two theses. One is that there are both irreducibly alethic or epistemic reasons for belief and irreducibly pragmatic (and non-alethic) reasons for belief. The other is that despite this, the source of all normativity is pragmatic in a particular way, i.e. that all reasons are reasons in virtue of their being conducive to wellbeing. The pluralist theory of reasons emerges from the irreducibly plural nature of the (...) components of wellbeing, on of which is being in a positively-valenced epistemic state. This view also offers some insight into outstanding problems concerning the scope, chronicity, and normativity of the requirements of theoretical rationality as well. The present chapter sets out a theory of how to weigh alethic and pragmatic (non-alethic) reasons for belief, or more precisely, to say how alethic and non-alethic considerations jointly determine what one ought to believe. It replaces my earlier (2008) weighing account. (shrink)
The thesis contains my early work arguing against evidentialism for reasons for belief (chapter 1), my early argument that rationality is not normative (chapter 2), an argument that rationality is not responding reasons, at least understood in one way (chapter 2), a general discussion of how normative conflicts might (appear to) arise in many different ways (chapter 3), a discussion of how to weigh pragmatic and evidential reasons for belief (chapter 4), and a discussion of the general (...) structure of normativity and its ramifications for understanding putative normative conflicts (chapter 4). At a more general level, the thesis aims to explore how putative normative conflicts might arise and whether they are genuine conflicts or only apparent. It also offers a defence of the view that there are genuine state-given reasons for propositional attitudes, including pragmatic reasons for belief. (shrink)
Practical reasoning is often described as weighingreasons. When one deliberates about what to do one puts all the reasons for the action on one side and all the reasons against the action on the other side. The balance between both sides determines the outcome of the deliberation. Assuming that this description is correct, the next question is how the different reasons for and against the action determine the outcome of the deliberation. This is the (...) place where the notion of weight enters. The natural answer is that every reason for or against an action has a weight, and the weights of all the reasons involved determine what one should do. The aim of this paper is to argue that this answer is wrong; weights of reasons have no role in a theory of reasoning. (shrink)
John Broome has proposed a theory of fairness according to which fairness requires that agents’ claims to goods be satisfied in proportion to the relative strength of those claims. In the case of competing claims for a single indivisible good, Broome argues that what fairness requires is the use of a weighted lottery as a surrogate to satisfying the competing claims: the relative chance of each claimant's winning the lottery should be set to the relative strength of each claimant's claim. (...) In this journal, James Kirkpatrick and Nick Eastwood have objected that the use of weighted lotteries in the case of indivisible goods is unacceptable. In this article, I explain why Kirkpatrick and Eastwood's objection misses its mark. (shrink)
What an agent ought to do is determined by competition between reasons bearing on the options open to her. The popular metaphor of balancing or weighingreasons on a scale to represent this competition encourages a focus on competition between reasons for competing options. But what an agent ought to do also depends on the reasons against those options. The balancing metaphor does not provide an obvious way to represent reasons against. Partly as a (...) result of this, there is a serious lack of work on reasons against. A simple view is that there is no problem here, since reasons against an option are really just more reasons for—in particular, reasons for certain alternatives. This simple view lets us maintain the balancing metaphor, and more importantly, it simplifies theorizing about the competition between reasons. This is because if it’s true, there is really just one kind of competition, the competition between reasons for competing options. This paper challenges the simple view, arguing against several ways of identifying which alternatives to an option the reasons against it are reasons for. I also sketch a competing view, according to which reasons against are distinct from reasons for—these are two different normative relations. If this kind of view is correct, then our theory of the competition between reasons will need to recognize at least two kinds of competition: the one between reasons for competing options, and the one between the reasons for an option and the reasons against it. (shrink)
Intuitively, choices seem to be intentional actions but it is difficult to see how they could be. If our choices are all about weighing up reasons then there seems no room for an additional intentional act of choice. Richard Holton has suggested a solution to this puzzle, which involves thinking of choices in a two systems of cognition framework. Holton’s suggestion does solve the puzzle, but has some unsatisfactory consequences. This paper wants to take over the important insights (...) from Holton on the phenomenology of choice and the possible explanation via a two systems framework, but wants to suggest an alternative more satisfactory account. This account is built around the idea that choices are what Pamela Hieronymi calls managerial acts. After developing the claim the paper then defends it against the objection that managerial control cannot be understood in a system1 context, by examining recent research on uncertainty monitoring and early forms of metacognition. (shrink)
A teleological approach to deciding how we should act underlies the attempted extension of neo-classical economics to environmental issues, with its emphasis on comparative valuation in monetary terms. Such an extension fails because, in the environmental sphere, there are powerful reasons for denying commensurability of the relevant values. But this denial then tends to undercut any weighing of environmental goods. In response to this difficulty, the paper seeks to develop an account of the weighing of goods which (...) would enable us to recognise value as a human creation, while also grounding it in an ecological unity with the wider life of nature. (shrink)
Contemporary legal philosophers commonly understand the normative force of law in terms of practical reason. They sharply disagree, however, on how exactly it translates into practical reason. Notably, some have argued that the directives of an authority that meets certain prerequisites of legitimacy generate reasons for action that exclude some otherwise applicable reasons, while others have insisted that such directives can only give rise to reasons that compete with opposing ones in terms of their weight . Does (...) the weighing model provide a normative framework within which law could adequately facilitate correct decision-making? At first glance, the answer appears to be ‘yes’: there seems to be nothing about law-following values—such as coordination reasons, the desirability of social order, deferential expertise, etc.—which prevents them from being factored into our decision-making in terms of normative weight that tips the balance in favor of compliance with law inasmuch as it is worthwhile to comply with it. This impression, however, turns out to be incorrect when, drawing on a body of empirical work in psychology, I observe that many of the practical difficulties law typically addresses are difficulties that have part of their root in biases to which we are systematically susceptible in the settings of our daily activity. I argue that the frequent presence of those biases in contexts of activity which law regulates, and the pivotal role law has in counteracting them, emphatically militate against the weighing model and call for its rejection. (shrink)
John Broome has made major contributions to, and radical innovations in, contemporary moral philosophy. His research combines the formal method of economics with the philosophical analysis. Broome's works stretch over formal axiology, decision theory, philosophy of economics, population axiology, the value of life, the ethics of climate change, the nature of rationality, and practical and theoretical reasoning. Weighing and Reasoning brings together fifteen original essays from leading philosophers who have been influenced by the work and thought of John Broome.They (...) explore Broome's works on the theory of value, and his works on practical and theoretical reasoning. This volume also includes Broome's note on his intellectual history to date. (shrink)
In an overlooked section of his influential book What We Owe to Each Other Thomas Scanlon advances an argument against the desire-model of practical reasoning. In Scanlon’s view the model gives a distorted picture of the structure of our practical thinking. His idea is that there is an alternative to the “weighing behavior” of reasons, a particular way in which reasons can relate to each other. This phenomenon, which the paper calls “silencing”, is not something that the (...) desire-model can accommodate, or so Scanlon argues. The paper first presents and interprets Scanlon’s challenge. After this, the paper argues, through the examination of three responses, that Scanlon is right in claiming that the model cannot accommodate the phenomenon as he describes it. However, the paper further argues that there is no need to accept Scanlon’s depiction of silencing: advocates of the model can give an alternative account of what happens in cases of silencing that is just as plausible as Scanlon’s own. Scanlon’s challenge is thus, the paper concludes, illegitimate. (shrink)
It is usually appropriate for adults to make significant decisions, such as about what kinds of medical treatment to undergo, for themselves. But sometimes impairments are suffered - either temporary or permanent - which render an individual unable to make such decisions. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 sets out the conditions under which it is appropriate to regard an individual as lacking the capacity to make a particular decision (and when provisions should be made for a decision on their behalf). (...) -/- To what extent does having capacity require the endorsement of certain values? Drawing on Owens et al (2009), I assess the extent to which understanding relevant information and weighing it in coming to a decision requires certain evaluative commitments. With reference to literature on anorexia nervosa and decisions informed by religious beliefs, I argue that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the conditions for capacity are value-laden, and that if this is so it is important to open discussion about which patterns of distorted valuing undermine capacity, and why. (shrink)
The main stream of legal theory tends to incorporate unwritten principles into the law. Weighing of principles plays a great role in legal argumentation, inter alia in statutory interpretation. A weighing and balancing of principles and other prima facie reasons is a jump. The inference is not conclusive.To deal with defeasibility and weighing, a jurist needs both the belief-revision logic and the nonmonotonic logic. The systems of nonmonotonic logic included in the present volume provide logical tools (...) enabling one to speak precisely about various kinds of rules about rules, dealing with such things as applicability of rules, what is assumed by rules, priority between rules and the burden of proof. Nonmonotonic logic is an example of an extension of the domain of logic. But the more far-reaching the extension is, the greater problems it meets. It seems impossible to make logical reconstruction of the totality of legal argumentation. (shrink)
It is generally thought that there are certain persons to whose welfare we should give special weight. It is commonly held, for example, that we should give special weight to our own welfare. On the strongest version of this view, we should always give overriding weight to our own welfare, and so, in considering any set of alternatives, we should always prefer the one in which we fare best. Many people would reject this strong view, for two reasons. First, (...) many people would hold that impersonal reasons (such as reasons of total utility) can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. Further, many people think that reasons deriving from special personal relations can sometimes outweigh, or at least counterbalance, reasons of self-interest. We can, however, formulate a much weaker, and much more plausible, version of the self-interest view that avoids both these problems. Let’s first define a person’s kin as anyone in the person’s extended family (including himself). And let’s define a person’s kith very broadly as anyone with whom that person has ever interacted. We can now formulate the weak version of the self-interest view as follows. (shrink)
The author adopts a coherentist approach to legal argumentation.Ceteris paribus, the degree of coherence of argumentation depends on answers to such questions as: How many statements belonging to the justification are supported by reasons, that is, not arbitrary?, How profound is the justification, that is, how long are the chains of reasons it contains?, How closely interconnected are the reasons, for example in such a way that the same conclusion follows from various independent reasons?, How relevant (...) are the reasons in the context in question?, etc.A reasonable legal argumentation is a special case of a reasonable moral argumentation. Both contain moral substantive reasons and legal authority reasons. On the other hand, some particularities of legal argumentation must be noticed, as well. Among other things, the lawyers take for granted that legal reasoning is based on valid law and that some sources of law, such as statutes, are binding.There exist various juristic roles and corresponding types of argumentation, e.g., judicial and doctrinal ones. Yet, all kinds of legal argumentation must use weighing and balancing in order to make the law coherent and morally acceptable. Consequently, all general principles and criteria of coherence are applicable to all these types but their weight varies between them. (shrink)
Agency and identity -- Necessitation -- Acts and actions -- Aristotle and Kant -- Agency and practical identity -- The metaphysics of normativity -- Constitutive standards -- The constitution of life -- In defense of teleology -- The paradox of self-constitution -- Formal and substantive principles of reason -- Formal versus substantive -- Testing versus weighing -- Maximizing and prudence -- Practical reason and the unity of the will -- The empiricist account of normativity -- The rationalist account of (...) normativity -- Kant on the hypothetical imperative -- Against particularistic willing -- Deciding and predicting -- Autonomy and efficacy -- The function of action -- The possibility of agency -- Non-rational action -- Action -- Attribution -- The psychology of action -- Expulsion from the garden : the transition to humanity -- Instinct, emotion, intelligence, and reason -- The parts of the soul -- Inside or outside -- Pull yourself together -- The constitutional model -- Models of the soul -- The city and the soul -- Platonic virtues -- Justice : substantive, procedural, and platonic -- Kant and the constitutional model -- Defective action -- The problem of bad action -- Being governed by the wrong law -- Or five bad constitutions -- Conceptions of evil -- Degrees of action -- Integrity and interaction -- Deciding to be bad -- The ordinary cases -- Dealing with the disunified -- Kant's theory of interaction -- My reasons -- Deciding to treat someone as an end in himself -- Interacting with yourself -- How to be a person -- What's left of me? (shrink)
I defend the view that a reason for someone to do something is just a reason why she ought to do it. This simple view has been thought incompatible with the existence of reasons to do things that we may refrain from doing or even ought not to do. For it is widely assumed that there are reasons why we ought to do something only if we ought to do it. I present several counterexamples to this principle and (...) reject some ways of understanding "ought" so that the principle is compatible with my examples. I conclude with a hypothesis for when and why the principle should be expected to fail. (shrink)
This paper looks at whether it is possible to unify the requirements of rationality with the demands of normative reasons. It might seem impossible to do because one depends upon the agent’s perspective and the other upon features of the situation. Enter Reasons Perspectivism. Reasons perspectivists think they can show that rationality does consist in responding correctly to reasons by placing epistemic constraints on these reasons. They think that if normative reasons are subject to (...) the right epistemic constraints, rational requirements will correspond to the demands generated by normative reasons. While this proposal is prima facie plausible, it cannot ultimately unify reasons and rationality. There is no epistemic constraint that can do what reasons perspectivists would need it to do. Some constraints are too strict. The rest are too slack. This points to a general problem with the reasons-first program. Once we recognize that the agent’s epistemic position helps determine what she should do, we have to reject the idea that the features of the agent’s situation can help determine what we should do. Either rationality crowds out reasons and their demands or the reasons will make unreasonable demands. (shrink)
It is often claimed that irreducibly normative truths would have unacceptable metaphysical implications, and are incompatible with a scientific view of the world. The book argues, on the basis of a general account of the relevance of ontological questions, that this claim is mistaken. It is also a mistake to think that interpreting normative judgments as beliefs would make it impossible to explain their connection with action. An agent’s acceptance of a normative judgment can explain that agent’s subsequent action because (...) it is part of being a rational agent that such an agent’s beliefs about reasons normally, but not invariably, make a difference to the agent’s subsequent behavior. Because facts about reasons are not entities existing apart from us, there is no epistemological problem of how we can “be in touch with” such facts. There are serious worries about normative knowledge, but the problems involved are internal to the normative domain itself. The best solution to these problems would be an overall account of the domain of reasons in normative terms, supported by an argument from reflective equilibrium. But no existing account, constructivist, or based on desires or on an idea of rationality, is plausible, and no alternative is likely to succeed. Conclusions about reasons for action must rest on more piecemeal applications of the method of reflective equilibrium. (shrink)
Many meta-ethicists have thought that rationality requires us to heed apparent normative reasons, not objective normative reasons. But what are apparent reasons? There are two kinds of standard answers. On de dicto views, R is an apparent reason for S to \ when it appears to S that R is an objective reason to \ . On de re views, R is an apparent reason for S to \ when R’s truth would constitute an objective reason for (...) S to \ , and it appears to S that R. De re views are currently more popular because they avoid overintellectualizing rationality. But they face problems owing to the way in which they do so. Some assume that we can escape these problems by requiring more information to be apparent or by appealing to defeat. But these strategies fail. So, I defend a new view: apparent reasons are apparent facts that agents are competently attracted to treat like objective reasons, where competence is indirectly defined in terms of objective reasons and a competence/performance distinction is honored. Since one can treat X like an F without having the concept of an F, the view does not overintellectualize rationality. But it is also strong enough to dodge the pitfalls of de re views. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue for a particular informative and unified analysis of normative reasons. According to this analysis, a fact F is a reason to act in a certain way just in case it is evidence that one ought to act in that way. Similarly, F is a reason to believe a certain proposition just in case it is evidence for the truth of this proposition. Putting the relatively uncontroversial claim about reasons for belief to one side, (...) we present several arguments in favor of our analysis of reasons for action. We then turn to consider a series of objections to the analysis. We conclude that there are good reasons to accept the analysis and that the objections do not succeed. (shrink)
This paper investigates two puzzles in practical reason and proposes a solution to them. First, sometimes, when we are practically certain that neither of two alternatives is better than or as good as the other with respect to what matters in the choice between them, it nevertheless seems perfectly rational to continue to deliberate, and sometimes the result of that deliberation is a conclusion that one alternative is better, where there is no error in one’s previous judgment. Second, there are (...) striking differences between rational agents – some rational agents have most reason to pursue careers on Wall Street while others have most reason to take up a career in teaching, or scuba diving, or working for political causes. These differences aren’t plausibly explained by ‘passive’ facts about our psychology or their causal interaction with our environment; instead, these facts seem in some sense to ‘express who we are’. But what is this sense? These puzzles disappear if we adopt a novel view about the source of the normativity of reasons – some reasons are given to us and others are reasons in virtue of an act of will. We make certain considerations reasons through an act of will and thus sometimes make it true through an act of agency that we have most reason to do one thing rather than another. (shrink)
I argue that the distinction between moral (“deontic”) and non-moral (“enticing”) reasons is a bogus one, and that “reasons first” approaches to ethics can’t account for the optionality of prudent self-care (flossing one’s teeth) or supererogatory gifts (of favors and kidneys). Non-moral reasons are, by definition, those that can’t ground moral obligations, even when unopposed by other reasons. But I think all reasons can ground obligations. When our unopposed reasons of self-interest, e.g., leave things (...) optional, that isn’t due to a lack of intrinsic oomph; it is due to a countervailing prerogative, which lets us act against the balance of reasons. My main argument is that there isn’t any good way to delimit the non-moral, whereas there is a clean way to say which prerogatives we have: they correspond to our rights against others, allowing us to do what others are forbidden from doing for us. (shrink)
This article gives an overview of some recent debates about the relationship between reasons and rational requirements of coherence - e.g. the requirements to be consistent in our beliefs and intentions, and to intend what we take to be the necessary means to our ends.
This chapter is organized around four central questions about the role of reasons in the epistemology of perception. The 'whether?' question: does perception provide us with reasons for belief about the external world? The 'how?' question: how does perception provide us with reasons for belief about the external world? The 'when?' question: when does perception provide us with reasons for belief about the external world? The 'what?' question: what are the reasons that perception provides us (...) with for belief about the external world? (shrink)
In a number of recent philosophical debates, it has become common to distinguish between two kinds of normative reasons, often called the right kind of reasons (henceforth: RKR) and the wrong kind of reasons (henceforth: WKR). The distinction was first introduced in discussions of the so-called buck-passing account of value, which aims to analyze value properties in terms of reasons for pro-attitudes and has been argued to face the wrong kind of reasons problem. But nowadays (...) it also gets applied in other philosophical contexts and to reasons for other responses than pro-attitudes, for example in recent debates about evidentialism and pragmatism about reasons for belief. While there seems to be wide agreement that there is a general and uniform distinction that applies to reasons for different responses, there is little agreement about the scope, relevance and nature of this distinction. Our aim in this article is to shed some light on this issue by surveying the RKR/WKR distinction as it has been drawn with respect to different responses, and by examining how it can be understood as a uniform distinction across different contexts. We start by considering reasons for pro-attitudes and emotions in the context of the buck-passing account of value (§1). Subsequently we address the distinction that philosophers have drawn with respect to reasons for other attitudes, such as beliefs and intentions (§2), as well as with respect to reasons for action (§3). We discuss the similarities and differences between the ways in which philosophers have drawn the RKR/WKR distinction in these areas and offer different interpretations of the idea of a general, uniform distinction. The major upshot is that there is at least one interesting way of substantiating a general RKR/WKR distinction with respect to a broad range of attitudes as well as actions. We argue that this has important implications for the proper scope of buck-passing accounts and the status of the wrong kind of reasons problem (§4). (shrink)
Over the past thirty years or so, virtues and reasons have emerged as two of the most fruitful and important concepts in contemporary moral philosophy. Virtue theory and moral psychology, for instance, are currently two burgeoning areas of philosophical investigation that involve different, but clearly related, focuses on individual agents’ responsiveness to reasons. The virtues themselves are major components of current ethical theories whose approaches to substantive or normative issues remain remarkably divergent in other respects. The virtues are (...) also increasingly important in a variety of new approaches to epistemology. ... (shrink)
A discussion of epistemic reasons, theoretical rationality, and the relationship between them. Discusses the ontology of reasons and evidence, the relationship between reasons (motivating, normative, possessed, apparent, genuine, etc.) and rationality, the relationship between epistemic reasons and evidence, the relationship between rationality, justification, and knowledge, and many other related topics.
Moral discourse contains judgements of two prominent kinds. It contains deontic judgements about rightness and wrongness, obligation and duty, and what a person ought to do. As I understand them, these deontic judgements are normative: they express conclusions about the bearing of normative reasons on the actions and other responses that are available to us. And it contains evaluative judgements about goodness and badness. Prominent among these are the judgements that evaluate the quality of our responsiveness to morally relevant (...)reasons. We have a rich vocabulary for making such evaluations – our vocabulary of aretaic terms. Aretaic terms are those which can be used to attribute virtues: terms such as “kind”, “honest”, “fair”, “tolerant” and “reliable”. However, while they can be used to attribute virtues, they have other uses too; and they can be applied not only to persons but also to various states of persons, to actions and other responses, and to patterns of response. In this paper, I offer an account of the relationship between some of the principal uses of aretaic terms; and I show how a useful taxonomy of moral virtues can be generated from the thought that these are ways of being well oriented to morally relevant reasons. (shrink)
There has been a considerable amount of debate about the norms of belief, but little discussion to date about what the reasons associated with these norms demand from us. By working out an account of what reasons demand, we can better understand the nature of justification.