Being Realistic About Reasons

Oxford: Oxford University Press (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 83,878

External links

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

Through your library


Epistemology and Determinateness

There is no problem about knowledge of normative truths, or mathematical truths, arising from a difficulty about how we could be in touch with facts about these subjects. Ideally, the possibility of such knowledge could be explained by an overall account of the subject in question, in its ... see more

Similar books and articles

The Reasons that Matter.Stephen Finlay - 2006 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):1 – 20.
Are there any nonmotivating reasons for action?Noa Latham - 2003 - In Sven Walter & Heinz-Dieter Heckmann (eds.), Physicalism and Mental Causation. Imprint Academic. pp. 273.
Reasons, Values, and Rational Actions.Paul K. Moser - 1990 - Journal of Philosophical Research 15:127-151.
Reasons and motivation.Derek Parfit - 1997 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 71 (1):99–130.
Are Epistemic Reasons Ever Reasons to Promote?Clayton Littlejohn - 2013 - Logos and Episteme 4 (3):353-360.
Reasons and impossibility.Ulrike Heuer - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (2):235 - 246.
Converging on values.Donald C. Hubin - 1999 - Analysis 59 (4):355–361.
Buck-passing and the wrong kind of reasons.Jonas Olson - 2004 - Philosophical Quarterly 54 (215):295–300.


Added to PP

184 (#82,175)

6 months
10 (#105,625)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

The Unity of Grounding.Selim Berker - 2018 - Mind 127 (507):729-777.
Real Definition.Gideon Rosen - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (3):189-209.

View all 281 citations / Add more citations