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Kinds of Reasons: An Essay in the Philosophy of Action

Oxford University Press (2010)

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  1. How Simple is the Humean Theory of Motivation?Olof Leffler - 2022 - Philosophical Explorations 25 (2):125-140.
    In recent discussions of the Humean Theory of Motivation (HTM), several authors – not to mention other philosophers around the proverbial water cooler – have appealed to the simplicity of the theory to defend it. But the argument from simplicity has rarely been explicated or received much critical attention – until now. I begin by reconstructing the argument and then argue that it suffers from a number of problems. Most importantly, first, I argue that HTM is unlikely to be simpler (...)
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  • The Mirage of Motivation Reason Internalism.Saleh Afroogh - 2022 - Journal of Value Inquiry 56:1-19.
    What is it for an agent to have a reason to do a certain action? Does this mean that she would desire to do the action under specified conditions, or that there is some external consideration, which she ought to follow? The former affective (i.e., desire-based) theory is ascribed to Humeans, whereas the latter cognitive theory is adopted by Kantians. The debate between the two views has seemingly ended up in a theoretical standoff, and most of the theorists of practical (...)
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  • Desire-Based Theories of Reasons and the Guise of the Good.Kael McCormack - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    I propose an account of desire that reconciles two apparently conflicting intuitions about practical agency. I do so by exploring a certain intuitive datum. The intuitive datum is that often when an agent desires P she will seem to immediately and conclusively know that there is a reason to bring P about. Desire-based theories of reasons seem uniquely placed to explain this intuitive datum. On this view, desires are the source of an agent’s practical reasons. A desire for P grounds (...)
     
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  • Epistemic Instrumentalism and the Too Few Reasons Objection.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (3):337-355.
    According to epistemic instrumentalism, epistemic normativity arises from and depends on facts about our ends. On that view, a consideration C is an epistemic reason for a subject S to Φ only if Φ-ing would promote an end that S has. However, according to the Too Few Epistemic Reasons objection, this cannot be correct since there are cases in which, intuitively, C is an epistemic reason for S to Φ even though Φ-ing would not promote any of S’s ends. After (...)
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  • The Space of Motivations.Donnchadh O’Conaill - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (3):440-455.
    The distinction between the space of reasons and the realm of law captures two familiar ways of making events intelligible, by reference to reasons or to natural laws, respectively. I describe a third way of making events intelligible, by explaining them in terms of an agent’s being motivated to do certain things. Explanations of this sort do not involve appealing to reasons for which the agent acts, nor to natural laws under which the event falls. To explain an event in (...)
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  • Legal Facts and Reasons for Action: Between Deflationary and Robust Conceptions of Law’s Reason-Giving Capacity.Noam Gur - 2019 - In Frederick Schauer, Christoph Bezemek & Nicoletta Bersier Ladavac (eds.), The Normative Force of the Factual: Legal Philosophy Between is and Ought. Springer Verlag. pp. 151-170.
    This chapter considers whether legal requirements can constitute reasons for action independently of the merits of the requirement at hand. While jurisprudential opinion on this question is far from uniform, sceptical views are becoming increasingly dominant. Such views typically contend that, while the law can be indicative of pre-existing reasons, or can trigger pre-existing reasons into operation, it cannot constitute new reasons. This chapter offers support to a somewhat less sceptical position, according to which the fact that a legal requirement (...)
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  • Actual Control - Demodalising Free Will.David Heering - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Leeds
    Plausibly, agents act freely iff their actions are responses to reasons. But what sort of relationship between reason and action is required for the action to count as a response? The overwhelmingly dominant answer to this question is modalist. It holds that responses are actions that share a modally robust or secure relationship with the relevant reasons. This thesis offers a new alternative answer. It argues that responses are actions that can be explained by reasons in the right way. This (...)
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  • Who Cares What You Accurately Believe?Clayton Littlejohn - 2015 - Philosophical Perspectives 29 (1):217-248.
    This is a critical discussion of the accuracy-first approach to epistemic norms. If you think of accuracy (gradational or categorical) as the fundamental epistemic good and think of epistemic goods as things that call for promotion, you might think that we should use broadly consequentialist reasoning to determine which norms govern partial and full belief. After presenting consequentialist arguments for probabilism and the normative Lockean view, I shall argue that the consequentialist framework isn't nearly as promising as it might first (...)
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  • How Inference Isn’T Blind: Self-Conscious Inference and its Role in Doxastic Agency.David Jenkins - 2019 - Dissertation, King’s College London
    This thesis brings together two concerns. The first is the nature of inference—what it is to infer—where inference is understood as a distinctive kind of conscious and self-conscious occurrence. The second concern is the possibility of doxastic agency. To be capable of doxastic agency is to be such that one is capable of directly exercising agency over one’s beliefs. It is to be capable of exercising agency over one’s beliefs in a way which does not amount to mere self-manipulation. Subjects (...)
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  • Hutcheson's Contributions to Action Theory.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe - 2022 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 20 (2):103-120.
    Jonathan Dancy charges that Hutcheson's distinction between justifying reasons and motivating reasons is unimportant: it is simply between moral reasons and other good reasons. I argue that the distinction is between propositions with different presuppositions and different functions. One identifies qualities of objects that we desire; the other identifies qualities that we approve. I situate Hutcheson in the current debate about the nature of practical reasons. I argue that he avoids problems posed for factivists and for Humeans. On Hutcheson's view, (...)
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  • Wouldn’T It Be Nice: Enticing Reasons for Love.N. L. Engel-Hawbecker - 2021 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), New Philosophical Essays on Love and Loving. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 195-214.
    A central debate in the philosophy of love is whether people can love one another for good reasons. Reasons for love seem to help us sympathetically understand and evaluate love or even count as loving at all. But it can seem that if reasons for love existed, they could require forms of love that are presumably illicit. It might seem that only some form of wishful thinking would lead us to believe reasons for love could never do this. However, if (...)
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  • Sentimental Reasons.Edgar Phillips - 2021 - In Simon Cushing (ed.), New Philosophical Essays on Love and Loving. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 171–194.
    Much recent discussion of love concerns ‘the reasons for love’: whether we love for reasons and, if so, what sorts of things those reasons are. This chapter seeks to call into question some of the assumptions that have shaped this debate, in particular the assumption that love might be ‘responsive’ to reasons in something like the way that actions, beliefs, intentions and ordinary emotions are. I begin by drawing out some tensions in the existing literature on reasons for love, suggesting (...)
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  • Explaining Free Will by Rational Abilities.Frank Hofmann - 2022 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 25 (2):283-297.
    In this paper I present an account of the rational abilities that make our decisions free. Following the lead of new dispositionalists, a leeway account of free decisions is developed, and the rational abilities that ground our abilities to decide otherwise are described in detail. A main result will be that the best account of the relevant rational abilities makes them two-way abilities: abilities to decide to do or not to do x in accordance with one’s apparent reasons. Dispositionalism about (...)
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  • The Matter of Motivating Reasons.J. J. Cunningham - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1563-1589.
    It is now standard in the literature on reasons and rationality to distinguish normative reasons from motivating reasons. Two issues have dominated philosophical theorising concerning the latter: (i) whether we should think of them as certain (non-factive) psychological states of the agent – the dispute over Psychologism; and (ii) whether we should say that the agent can Φ for the reason that p only if p – the dispute over Factivism. This paper first introduces a puzzle: these disputes look very (...)
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  • Group Action Without Group Minds.Kenneth Silver - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (2):321-342.
    Groups behave in a variety of ways. To show that this behavior amounts to action, it would be best to fit it into a general account of action. However, nearly every account from the philosophy of action requires the agent to have mental states such as beliefs, desires, and intentions. Unfortunately, theorists are divided over whether groups can instantiate these states—typically depending on whether or not they are willing to accept functionalism about the mind. But we can avoid this debate. (...)
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  • The Nature of Desire.Federico Lauria & Julien A. Deonna (eds.) - 2017 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Desires matter. What are desires? Many believe that desire is a motivational state: desiring is being disposed to act. This conception aligns with the functionalist approach to desire and the standard account of desire's role in explaining action. According to a second influential approach, however, desire is first and foremost an evaluation: desiring is representing something as good. After all, we seem to desire things under the guise of the good. Which understanding of desire is more accurate? Is the guise (...)
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  • Mindlessness Bibliography.Ezio Di Nucci - 2013 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
    This file contains the Bibliography of my book Mindlessness.
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  • Mindlessness.Ezio Di Nucci - 2013 - Cambridge Scholars Press.
    Thinking is overrated: golfers perform best when distracted and under pressure; firefighters make the right calls without a clue as to why; and you are yourself ill advised to look at your steps as you go down the stairs, or to try and remember your pin number before typing it in. Just do it, mindlessly. Both empirical psychologists and the common man have long worked out that thinking is often a bad idea, but philosophers still hang on to an intellectualist (...)
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  • Reasons for Action, Acting for Reasons, and Rationality.Maria Alvarez - 2018 - Synthese 195 (8):3293-3310.
    What kind of thing is a reason for action? What is it to act for a reason? And what is the connection between acting for a reason and rationality? There is controversy about the many issues raised by these questions. In this paper I shall answer the first question with a conception of practical reasons that I call ‘Factualism’, which says that all reasons are facts. I defend this conception against its main rival, Psychologism, which says that practical reasons are (...)
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  • No Infelicity for the Infallibilist.Giada Fratantonio - 2021 - Theoria (5):1307-1321.
    According to Probability 1 Infallibilism (henceforth, Infallibilism), if one knows that p, then the probability of p given one’s evidence is 1. Jessica Brown (2018, 2013) has recently argued that Infallibilism leads to scepticism unless the infallibilist also endorses the claim that if one knows that p, then p is part of one’s evidence for p. By doing that, however, the infalliblist has to explain why it is infelicitous to cite p as evidence for itself. And yet, the infallibilist doesn’t (...)
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  • Creditworthiness and Matching Principles.Jonathan Way - forthcoming - In Mark Timmons (ed.), Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Vol 7. Oxford University Press.
    You are creditworthy for φ-ing only if φ-ing is the right thing to do. Famously though, further conditions are needed too – Kant’s shopkeeper did the right thing, but is not creditworthy for doing so. This case shows that creditworthiness requires that there be a certain kind of explanation of why you did the right thing. The reasons for which you act – your motivating reasons – must meet some further conditions. In this paper, I defend a new account of (...)
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  • A Humean Explanation of Acting on Normative Reasons.Elizabeth S. Radcliffe - 2020 - Synthese 199 (1-2):1269-1292.
    This article presents a limited defense of Humeanism about practical reason. Jonathan Dancy and other traditional objective-reasons theorists argue that all practical reasons, what we think about when we deliberate, are facts or states of affairs in the world. On the Humean view, the reasons that motivate us are belief-desire combinations, which are in the mind. Thus, Dancy and others reject Humeanism on the grounds that it cannot allow that anyone acts from a normative reason. I argue, first, that this (...)
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  • Agency and Causal Explanation in Economics. Virtues and Economics, Vol 5.Peter Róna & László Zsolnai (eds.) - 2020 - Springer.
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  • The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Kiesewetter defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. He provides a defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, an evidence-relative account of reason, and an explanation of structural irrationality in relation to these accounts.
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  • Basic Knowledge and the Normativity of Knowledge: The Awareness‐First Solution.Paul Silva - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Many have found it plausible that knowledge is a constitutively normative state, i.e. a state that is grounded in the possession of reasons. Many have also found it plausible that certain cases of proprioceptive knowledge, memorial knowledge, and self-evident knowledge are cases of knowledge that are not grounded in the possession of reasons. I refer to these as cases of basic knowledge. The existence of basic knowledge forms a primary objection to the idea that knowledge is a constitutively normative state. (...)
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  • Acting and Believing Under the Guise of Normative Reasons.Keshav Singh - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (2):409-430.
    In this paper, I defend an account of the reasons for which we act, believe, and so on for any Ф such that there can be reasons for which we Ф. Such reasons are standardly called motivating reasons. I argue that three dominant views of motivating reasons all fail to capture the ordinary concept of a motivating reason. I show this by drawing out three constraints on what motivating reasons must be, and demonstrating how each view fails to satisfy at (...)
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  • Stop Making Sense? On a Puzzle About Rationality.Littlejohn Clayton - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:257-272.
    In this paper, I present a puzzle about epistemic rationality. It seems plausible that it should be rational to believe a proposition if you have sufficient evidential support for it. It seems plausible that it rationality requires you to conform to the categorical requirements of rationality. It also seems plausible that our first-order attitudes ought to mesh with our higher-order attitudes. It seems unfortunate that we cannot accept all three claims about rationality. I will present three ways of trying to (...)
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  • Does Belief (Only) Aim at the Truth?Daniel Whiting - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2):279-300.
    It is common to hear talk of the aim of belief and to find philosophers appealing to that aim for numerous explanatory purposes. What belief 's aim explains depends, of course, on what that aim is. Many hold that it is somehow related to truth, but there are various ways in which one might specify belief 's aim using the notion of truth. In this article, by considering whether they can account for belief 's standard of correctness and the epistemic (...)
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  • Normative Explanation and Justification.Pekka Väyrynen - 2021 - Noûs 55 (1):3-22.
    Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...)
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  • Early Sartre on Freedom and Ethics.Peter Poellner - 2015 - European Journal of Philosophy 23 (2):221-247.
    This paper offers a revisionary interpretation of Sartre's early views on human freedom. Sartre articulates a subtle account of a fundamental sense of human freedom as autonomy, in terms of human consciousness being both reasons-responsive and in a distinctive sense self-determining. The aspects of Sartre's theory of human freedom that underpin his early ethics are shown to be based on his phenomenological analysis of consciousness as, in its fundamental mode of self-presence, not an object in the world. Sartre has a (...)
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  • At Least You Tried: The Value of De Dicto Concern to Do the Right Thing.Claire Field - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 1:1-24.
    I argue that there are some situations in which it is praiseworthy to be motivated only by moral rightness de dicto, even if this results in wrongdoing. I consider a set of cases that are challenging for views that dispute this, prioritising concern for what is morally important (de re, and not de dicto) in moral evaluation (for example, Arpaly 2002; Arpaly and Schroeder 2013; Harman 2015; Weatherson 2019). In these cases, the agent is not concerned about what is morally (...)
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  • Epistemic Agency: Some Doubts.Kieran Setiya - 2013 - Philosophical Issues 23 (1):179-198.
    Argues for a deflationary account of epistemic agency. We believe things for reasons and our beliefs change over time, but there is no further sense in which we are active in judgement, inference, or belief.
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  • Against Second‐Order Reasons.Daniel Whiting - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):398-420.
    A normative reason for a person to? is a consideration which favours?ing. A motivating reason is a reason for which or on the basis of which a person?s. This paper explores a connection between normative and motivating reasons. More specifically, it explores the idea that there are second-order normative reasons to? for or on the basis of certain first-order normative reasons. In this paper, I challenge the view that there are second-order reasons so understood. I then show that prominent views (...)
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  • Epistemic Vice and Motivation.Alessandra Tanesini - 2018 - Metaphilosophy 49 (3):350-367.
    This article argues that intellectual character vices involve non-instrumental motives to oppose, antagonise, or avoid things that are epistemically good in themselves. This view has been the recent target of criticism based on alleged counterexamples presenting epistemically vicious individuals who are virtuously motivated or at least lack suitable epistemically bad motivations. The paper first presents these examples and shows that they do not undermine the motivational approach. Finally, having distinguished motivating from explanatory reasons for belief and action, it argues that (...)
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  • Epistemology without guidance.Nick Hughes - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):163-196.
    Epistemologists often appeal to the idea that a normative theory must provide useful, usable, guidance to argue for one normative epistemology over another. I argue that this is a mistake. Guidance considerations have no role to play in theory choice in epistemology. I show how this has implications for debates about the possibility and scope of epistemic dilemmas, the legitimacy of idealisation in Bayesian epistemology, uniqueness versus permissivism, sharp versus mushy credences, and internalism versus externalism.
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  • From Responsibility to Reason-Giving Explainable Artificial Intelligence.Kevin Baum, Susanne Mantel, Timo Speith & Eva Schmidt - 2022 - Philosophy and Technology 35 (1):1-30.
    We argue that explainable artificial intelligence (XAI), specifically reason-giving XAI, often constitutes the most suitable way of ensuring that someone can properly be held responsible for decisions that are based on the outputs of artificial intelligent (AI) systems. We first show that, to close moral responsibility gaps (Matthias 2004), often a human in the loop is needed who is directly responsible for particular AI-supported decisions. Second, we appeal to the epistemic condition on moral responsibility to argue that, in order to (...)
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  • Even If It Might Not Be True, Evidence Cannot Be False.Clayton Littlejohn & Julien Dutant - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (3):801-827.
    Wordly internalists claim that while internal duplicates always share the same evidence, our evidence includes non-trivial propositions about our environment. It follows that some evidence is false. Worldly internalism is thought to provide a more satisfying answer to scepticism than classical internalist views that deny that these propositions about our environment might belong to our evidence and to provide a generally more attractive account of rationality and reasons for belief. We argue that worldly internalism faces serious difficulties and that its (...)
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  • The Double Intentionality of Moral Intentional Actions: Scotus and Ockham on Interior and Exterior Acts.Sonja Schierbaum - 2022 - Topoi 41 (1):171-181.
    Any account of intentional action has to deal with the problem of how such actions are individuated. Medieval accounts, however, crucially differ from contemporary ones in at least three respects: for medieval authors, individuation is not a matter of description, as it is according to contemporary, ‘Anscombian’ views; rather, it is a metaphysical matter. Medieval authors discuss intentional action on the basis of faculty psychology, whereas contemporary accounts are not committed to this kind of psychology. Connected to the use of (...)
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  • Explaining Ideology: Mechanisms and Metaphysics.Matteo Bianchin - 2020 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 50 (4):313-337.
    Ideology is commonly defined along functional, epistemic, and genetic dimensions. This article advances a reasonably unified account that specifies how they connect and locates the mechanisms at work. I frame the account along a recent distinction between anchoring and grounding, endorse an etiological reading of functional explanations, and draw on current work about the epistemology of delusion, looping effects, and structuring causes to explain how ideologies originate, reproduce, and possibly collapse. This eventually allows articulating how the legitimating function of ideologies (...)
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  • Exercising Doxastic Freedom.Conor Mchugh - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (1):1-37.
    This paper defends the possibility of doxastic freedom, arguing that doxastic freedom should be modelled not on freedom of action but on freedom of intention. Freedom of action is exercised by agents like us, I argue, through voluntary control. This involves two conditions, intentions-reactivity and reasons-reactivity, that are not met in the case of doxastic states. Freedom of intention is central to our agency and to our moral responsibility, but is not exercised through voluntary control. I develop and defend an (...)
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  • Being More Realistic About Reasons: On Rationality and Reasons Perspectivism.Clayton Littlejohn - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):605-627.
    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 (...)
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  • Normative Reasons Contextualism.Tim Henning - 2014 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 88 (3):593-624.
    This article argues for the view that statements about normative reasons are context-sensitive. Specifically, they are sensitive to a contextual parameter specifying a relevant person's or group's body of information. The argument for normative reasons contextualism starts from the context-sensitivity of the normative “ought” and the further premise that reasons must be aligned with oughts. It is incoherent, I maintain, to suppose that someone normatively ought to φ but has most reason not to φ. So given that oughts depend on (...)
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  • A “Good” Explanation of Five Puzzles About Reasons.Stephen Finlay - 2019 - Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):62-104.
    This paper champions the view (REG) that the concept of a normative reason for an agent S to perform an action A is that of an explanation why it would be good (in some way, to some degree) for S to do A. REG has numerous virtues, but faces some significant challenges which prompt many philosophers to be skeptical that it can correctly account for all our reasons. I demonstrate how five different puzzles about normative reasons can be solved by (...)
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  • Conclusive Reasons, Knowledge, and Action.John A. Barker & Fred Adams - 2012 - Philosophical Issues 22 (1):35-52.
    The article presents information on the capabilities of Dretske-style analysis of knowing (DAK) and of several competing analyses with respect to accounting for the apparent facts. It informs that the DAK can ground plausible verdicts about knowledge and ignorance in cases involving lotteries. It further informs that the knowledge-efficacy donor imply the implausible thesis.
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  • XIV—What Are Sources of Motivation?Giles Pearson - 2015 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 115 (3pt3):255-276.
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Volume 115, Issue 3pt3, Page 255-276, December 2015.
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  • XV—The Russellian Retreat.Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):293-320.
    Belief does aim at the truth. When our beliefs do not fit the facts, they cannot do what they are supposed to do, because they cannot provide us with reasons. We cannot plausibly deny that a truth norm is among the norms that govern belief. What we should not say is that the truth norm is the fundamental epistemic norm. In this paper, I shall argue that knowledge is the norm of belief and that the truth norm has a derivative (...)
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  • Can Reasons Be Propositions? Against Dancy's Attack on Propositionalism.Attila Tanyi & Morganti Matteo - 2017 - Theoria 83 (3):185-205.
    The topic of this article is the ontology of practical reasons. We draw a critical comparison between two views. According to the first, practical reasons are states of affairs; according to the second, they are propositions. We first isolate and spell out in detail certain objections to the second view that can be found only in embryonic form in the literature – in particular, in the work of Jonathan Dancy. Next, we sketch possible ways in which one might respond to (...)
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  • Normativism and Doxastic Deliberation.Conor McHugh - 2013 - Analytic Philosophy 54 (4):447-465.
  • Worldly Reasons: An Ontological Inquiry Into Motivating Considerations and Normative Reasons.Susanne Mantel - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.
    In this article I advocate a worldly account of normative reasons according to which there is an ontological gap between these and the premises of practical thought, i.e. motivating considerations. While motivating considerations are individuated fine-grainedly, normative reasons should be classified as coarse-grained entities, e.g. as states of affairs, in order to explain certain necessary truths about them and to make sense of how we count and weigh them. As I briefly sketch, acting for normative reasons is nonetheless possible if (...)
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  • Practical Animal Reasoning.Martin Walter Niederl - 2021 - Undergraduate Philosophy Journal of Australasia 3:71-89.
    In his latest paper on animal agency, Glock (2019) presents a series of arguments to the extent that non-linguistic animals are capable of acting rationally and for reasons. This notwithstanding, he still denies them the ability to conceptualise reasons as reasons. I will argue that, in using Glock’s account, one can in fact claim that non- linguistic animals are capable of conceptualising reasons as reasons. For this, I will apply Glock’s own criteria for concept-possession to the concepts of a reason (...)
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