The normative force of reasoning

Noûs 40 (4):660–686 (2006)
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Abstract

What exactly is reasoning? Like many other philosophers, I shall endorse a broadly causal conception of reasoning. Reasoning is a causal process, in which one mental event (say, one’s accepting the conclusion of a certain argument) is caused by an antecedent mental event (say, one’s considering the premises of the argument). Just like causal accounts of action and causal accounts of perception, causal accounts of reasoning have to confront a version of what has come to be known as the problem of deviant causal chains. In this paper, I shall propose an account of the nature of reasoning, incorporating a solution to the specific version of the deviant causal chains problem that arises for accounts of reasoning. One striking feature of my solution is that it requires that certain normative facts are causally efficacious. It might be thought that this feature will make my account incompatible with any plausibly naturalistic approach to understanding the mind. I shall argue that this is not so: my account of the nature of reasoning is quite compatible with plausible versions of naturalism.

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Ralph Wedgwood
University of Southern California

Citations of this work

The Importance of Being Rational.Errol Lord - 2013 - Dissertation, Princeton University
What is Reasoning?Conor McHugh & Jonathan Way - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):167-196.
Believing For a Reason.John Turri - 2011 - Erkenntnis 74 (3):383-397.
The place of reasons in epistemology.Kurt Sylvan & Ernest Sosa - 2018 - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press.

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