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.
Sometimes our intentions and beliefs exhibit a structure that proves us to be irrational. This dissertation is concerned with the question of whether we ought (or have at least good reason) to avoid such irrationality. The thesis 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. The argument touches upon many other topics in the theory of normativity, such as the form and the content (...) of rational standards or requirements, the preconditions of criti¬cism, and the function of reasons in deliberation and advice. Over and above an exten¬sive assessment of the problems discussed in the literature, the thesis provides a detailed defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, a novel, evidence-relative account of reasons, and an explanation of structural irrationality in terms of these accounts. (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)
According to an attractive and widely held view, all practical reasons are explained in terms of the (instrumental or final) value of the action supported by the reason. I argue that this theory is incompatible with plausible assumptions about the practical reasons that correspond to certain moral rights, including the right to a promised action and the right to an exclusive use of one’s property. The argument is an explanatory rather than extensional one: while the actions supported by the relevant (...) reasons (e.g. keeping a valid promise or respecting property) can be argued to have a certain kind of value, I argue that this value presupposes a moral right, and therefore cannot explain the reason. Reflection on such cases suggest the conclusion that reasons that are subject to normative powers are generally not value-based. This also has important implications for the dialectic between ‘value-first’ and ‘reasons-first’ approaches to normativity. (shrink)
According to a widely held view, epistemic reasons are normative reasons for belief – much like prudential or moral reasons are normative reasons for action. In recent years, however, an increasing number of authors have questioned the assumption that epistemic reasons are normative. In this article, I discuss an important challenge for anti-normativism about epistemic reasons and present a number of arguments in support of normativism. The challenge for anti-normativism is to say what kind of reasons epistemic reasons are if (...) they are not normative reasons. I discuss various answers to this challenge and find them all wanting. The arguments for normativism each stress a certain analogy between epistemic reasons and normative reasons for action. Just like normative reasons for action, epistemic reasons provide partial justification; they provide premises for correct reasoning; they constitute good bases for the responses they are reasons for; and they are reasons for which agents can show these responses without committing a mistake. In each case, I argue that the relevant condition is plausibly sufficient for the normativity of a reason, and that normativism is in any case in a much better position to explain the analogy than anti-normativism. (shrink)
If you ought to perform a certain act, and some other action is a necessary means for you to perform that act, then you ought to perform that other action as well – or so it seems plausible to say. This transmission principle is of both practical and theoretical significance. The aim of this paper is to defend this principle against a number of recent objections, which (as I show) are all based on core assumptions of the view called actualism. (...) I reject actualism, provide an alternative explanation of its plausible features, and present an independent argument for the transmission principle. (shrink)
In this paper I present an argument for the claim that you ought to do something only if you may believe that you ought to do it. More exactly, I defend the following principle about normative reasons: An agent A has decisive reason to φ only if she also has sufficient reason to believe that she has decisive reason to φ. I argue that this principle follows from the plausible assumption that it must be possible for an agent to respond (...) correctly to her reasons. In conclusion, I discuss some implications of this argument (given that some other standard assumptions about reasons hold). One such implication is that we are always in a position to be justified in believing all truths about what we have decisive reason (or ought) to do. (shrink)
Actualists hold that contrary-to-duty scenarios give rise to deontic dilemmas and provide counterexamples to the transmission principle, according to which we ought to take the necessary means to actions we ought to perform. In an earlier article, I have argued, contrary to actualism, that the notion of ‘ought’ that figures in conclusions of practical deliberation does not allow for deontic dilemmas and validates the transmission principle. Here I defend these claims, together with my possibilist account of contrary-to-duty scenarios, against Stephen (...) White’s recent criticism. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a theory of how claims about an agent’s normative reasons are sensitive to the epistemic circumstances of this agent, which preserves the plausible ideas that reasons are facts and that reasons can be discovered in deliberation and disclosed in advice. I argue that a plausible theory of this kind must take into account the difference between synchronic and diachronic reasons, i.e. reasons for acting immediately and reasons for acting at some later point in time. I (...) provide a general account of the relation between synchronic and diachronic reasons, demonstrate its implications for the evidence-sensitivity of reasons and finally present and defend an argument for my view. (shrink)
John Broome argues that rationality cannot consist in reasons-responsiveness since rationality supervenes on the mind, while reasons-responsiveness does not supervene on the mind. I here defend this conception of rationality by way of defending the assumption that reasons-responsiveness supervenes on the mind. Given the many advantages of an analysis of rationality in terms of reasons-responsiveness, and in light of independent considerations in favour of the view that reasons-responsiveness supervenes on the mind, we should take seriously the backup view, a hypothesis (...) that explains why reasons-responsiveness supervenes on the mind even though paradigmatic reasons are external facts. I argue that Broome’s objections to the backup view, as well as his more general objection to the thesis that reasons-responsiveness supervenes on the mind, do not succeed. (shrink)
Which principles govern the transmission of reasons from ends to means? Some philosophers have suggested a liberal transmission principle, according to which agents have an instrumental reason for an action whenever this action is a means for them to do what they have non-instrumental reason to do. In this paper, we (i) discuss the merits and demerits of the liberal transmission principle, (ii) argue that there are good reasons to reject it, and (iii) present an alternative, less liberal transmission principle, (...) which allows us to accommodate those phenomena that seem to support the liberal transmission principle while avoiding its problems. (shrink)
This paper has two aims. The first is to present and defend a new argument for rights contributionism – the view that the notion of a moral claim-right is a contributory (or pro tanto) rather than overall normative notion. The argument is an inference to the best explanation: it is argued that (i) there are contributory moral factors that contrast with standard moral reasons by way of having a number of formal properties that are characteristic of rights, even though they (...) can be overridden, and (ii) that this is best explained by a view that takes these factors to correlate with rights. The second aim is to show that the truth of rights contributionism matters for normative ethics. More specifically, it is argued that rights contributionism clears the way for deontologists to justify the pre-theoretically plausible verdict that we have a duty to save the greater number in so-called Taurek scenarios – scenarios in which we have to choose between saving either a greater or a smaller number of different people. The chapter offers a novel and distinctively deontological explanation of this verdict that is based on the assumption that everyone has a pro tanto right to be saved in a Taurek scenario. (shrink)
This entry is composed of three sections. In §1, we survey debates about what structural rationality is, including the emergence of the concept in the contemporary literature, its key characteristics, its relationship to substantive rationality, its paradigm instances, and the questions of whether these instances are unified and, if so, how. In §2, we turn to the debate about structural requirements of rationality – including controversies about whether they are “wide-scope” or “narrow-scope”, synchronic or diachronic, and whether they govern processes (...) or states; as well as examining various forms of skepticism about structural requirements of rationality. In §3, we turn to the debate about the normative significance of structural rationality, surveying central challenges for the view that structural rationality is normatively significant and the theoretical options that arise in light of these challenges. (shrink)
According to perspectivism about moral obligation, our obligations are affected by our epistemic circumstances. But how exactly should this claim be understood? On Zimmerman’s “Prospective View”, perspectivism is spelled out as the thesis that an option is obligatory if and only if it maximizes what Zimmerman calls “prospective value”, which is in turn determined by the agent’s present evidence. In this article, I raise two objections to this approach. Firstly, I argue that spelling out the difference between perspectivism and anti-perspectivism (...) in terms of value creates a number of problems that can be avoided by an account that proceeds in terms of reasons. Secondly, I argue that Zimmerman focuses on the wrong body of evidence, and that this commits him to an implausible solution to the problem that perspectivists face with regard to advice from better-informed sources. (shrink)
In this essay, I argue that the objections that have been raised against the view that equality is intrinsically valuable also provide objections to the view that all practical reasons can be explained in terms of value. Plausible egalitarian principles entail that under certain conditions people have claims to an equal share. These claims entail reasons to distribute goods equally that cannot be explained by value if equality has no intrinsic value.
According to epistemic reductionism about practical reasons, facts about practical reasons can be reduced to facts about evidence for ought-judgements. We argue that this view misconstrues practical conflicts. At least some conflicts between practical reasons put us in a position to know that an action ϕ is optional, i.e. that we neither ought to perform nor ought to refrain from performing the action. By understanding conflicts of practical reasons as conflicts of evidence about what one ought to do, epistemic reductionism (...) fails to account for this. In conflict cases in which ϕ-ing is optional, epistemic reductionism suggests that we have equally strong evidence for and against assuming that we ought to ϕ, and thus cannot be in a position to know that it is not the case that we ought to ϕ. This is a serious flaw. (shrink)
In his discussion of normative concepts in the first part of On What Matters (2011), Parfit holds that apart from the ‘ought’ of decisive reason, there are other senses of ‘ought’ which do not imply any reasons. This claim poses a dilemma for his ‘reason-involving conception’ of normativity: either Parfit has to conclude that non-reason-implying ‘oughts’ are not normative. Or else he is forced to accept that normativity needs only to involve ‘apparent reasons’ – a certain kind of hypothetical truths (...) about reasons. I argue that both of these options are inacceptable. In the course of the discussion, I present a general objection to ‘apparent reason accounts’ of the normativity of rationality as advocated not only by Parfit, but also by Schroeder (2009) and Way (2009). (shrink)
Political actions by Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion, and other climate activists often involve violations of legal regulations – such as compulsory education requirements or traffic laws – and have been criticized for this in the public sphere. In this essay, I defend the view that these violations of the law constitute a form of morally justified civil disobedience against climate policies. I first show that these actions satisfy the criteria of civil disobedience even on relatively strict conceptions of civil (...) disobedience. I then argue that they meet plausible justification conditions for civil disobedience because they are directed against serious and clear injustices, which legal means of influence have failed to remedy for decades. Finally, I reject the objection that civil disobedience against climate policy violates basic democratic principles because it claims authority to override democratically enacted agreements. When addressed to Fridays for Future activists, the objection misfires for the reason alone that these activists are largely minors that are excluded from democratic participation. Moreover, disobedience even by adult activists is justified by the existence of serious democratic deficits in our climate policies, especially since it can help to correct them. Such deficits include the lack of representation of the interests of people affected by climate change in the future and globally. (shrink)
This is a Japanese translation of my article "Dürfen wir Kindern das Wahlrecht vorenthalten" ("Are We Justified to Deny Children the Right to Vote?"), which presents a basic moral argument against any age limit with respect to voting rights.
Thomas Kroedel argues that the lottery paradox can be solved by identifying epistemic justification with epistemic permissibility rather than epistemic obligation. According to his permissibility solution, we are permitted to believe of each lottery ticket that it will lose, but since permissions do not agglomerate, it does not follow that we are permitted to have all of these beliefs together, and therefore it also does not follow that we are permitted to believe that all tickets will lose. I present two (...) objections to this solution. First, even if justification itself amounts to no more than epistemic permissibility, the lottery paradox recurs at the level of doxastic obligations unless one adopts an extremely permissive view about suspension of belief that is in tension with our practice of doxastic criticism. Second, even if there are no obligations to believe lottery propositions, the permissibility solution fails because epistemic permissions typically agglomerate, and the lottery case provides no exception to this rule. (shrink)
Up to a certain age, young people are denied the right to vote. In this paper, it is argued that this general exclusion from democratic participation is unjustified and should be abandoned. After a short survey of some of the pedagogic, legal, and political arguments that have been brought forward to support a liberalisation of electoral law in favour of children, the essay presents a basic moral argument against any age limit with respect to voting rights. First of all, it (...) is argued that the right to vote is grounded in a fundamental claim of human beings to equal participation and, therefore, can be denied only for severe and cogent reasons. Subsequently, the essay purports to establish – and defends against objections – that there are no such reasons that sufficiently justify an age limit. The paper concludes with some remarks on practical consequences of the argument. (shrink)
One of the central aims of Susanne Mantel’s book "Determined by Reasons" (2018) is to reject the idea that normative and motivating reasons can be identical. In her own words, Mantel denies the “Identity Thesis”, according to which “when an agent acts for a normative reason N, there is a motivating reason M of that agent such that M is identical with N” (Mantel 2018, 93). In this comment, I offer a simple argument for the Identity Thesis: (1) When an (...) agent acts for a normative reason N, there is a reason M for which that agent acts such that M is identical with N. (2) A reason for which someone acts is a motivating reason. (3) Therefore, when an agent acts for a normative reason N, there is a motivating reason M of that agent such that M is identical with N. Premise (1) is trivial, and premise (2) is true by a common definition of the term ‘motivating reason’, according to which a motivating reason is just a reason that is acted upon. I call this the operative notion of a motivating reason. Mantel does not address this operative notion, even though it is widely used in the literature, especially among proponents of the Identity Thesis. I argue that Mantel does not succeed in rejecting the Identity Thesis as long as she does not show that the operative notion of a motivating reason is flawed. (shrink)
Some of our reasons for action are grounded in the fact that the action in question is a means to something else we have reason to do. This raises the question as to which principles govern the transmission of reasons from ends to means. In this paper, we discuss the merits and demerits of a liberal transmission principle, which plays a prominent role in the current literature. The principle states that an agent has an instrumental reason to whenever -ing is (...) a means for him to do what he has intrinsic reason to do. We start by discussing the objection that this principle implies counterintuitive reason statements. We argue that attempts to solve this “too many reasons problem” by appealing to pragmatic strategies for debunking intuitions about so-called negative reason existentials are questionable. Subsequently, we discuss three important arguments in favor of Liberal Transmission, and argue that they fail to make a convincing case for this principle. In the course of the discussion, we also provide alternative, less liberal transmission principles. We argue that these alternative principles allow us to accommodate those phenomena that seem to support Liberal Transmission while avoiding its problems. (shrink)
Akrasia bezeichnet bei Aristoteles die tadelnswerte charakterliche Disposition, trotz einer richtigen Auffassung des Guten aufgrund körperlicher Begierden das Schlechte zu tun. Den Typus des Unbeherrschten greift Aristoteles in seinen Schriften wiederholt auf. Kleinere Abhandlungen finden sich in Magna moralia II 4–6 und Problemata XXVIII, wobei die ausführlichste Erörterung in der Nikomachischen Ethik VII 1–11 stets im Zentrum der Rezeption stand.