Being More Realistic About Reasons: On Rationality and Reasons Perspectivism

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):605-627 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

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.

Similar books and articles

Reasons and Theoretical Rationality.Clayton Littlejohn - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
Moral reasons, epistemic reasons, and rationality.Alex Worsnip - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (263):341-361.
Why be rational.Niko Kolodny - 2005 - Mind 114 (455):509-563.
Normative requirements.John Broome - 1999 - Ratio 12 (4):398–419.
Reasons and Rationality.Jonathan Way - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
Two Accounts of the Normativity of Rationality.Jonathan Way - 2009 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 4 (1):1-9.
Does Rationality Consist in Responding Correctly to Reasons?John Broome - 2007 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 4 (3):349-374.
How reasons are sensitive to available evidence.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2018 - In Conor McHugh, Jonathan Way & Daniel Whiting (eds.), Normativity: Epistemic and Practical. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 90-114.
Reasons and Normativity in Critical Thinking.Guðmundur Heiðar Frímannsson - 2015 - Studier i Pædagogisk Filosofi 4 (1):3-16.
Keep Things in Perspective: Reasons, Rationality, and the A Priori.Daniel Whiting - 2014 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 8 (1):1-22.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-01-19

Downloads
1,761 (#4,725)

6 months
139 (#18,814)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Clayton Littlejohn
Australian Catholic University

Citations of this work

Epistemology without guidance.Nick Hughes - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):163-196.
One Desire Too Many.Nathan Robert Howard - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (2):302-317.
Aesthetic Reasons and the Demands They (Do Not) Make.Daniel Whiting - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):407-427.

View all 19 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Knowledge and its limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Justification and the Truth-Connection.Clayton Littlejohn - 2012 - New York: Cambridge 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.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.

View all 88 references / Add more references