This paper offers two competing accounts of normative requirements, each of which purports to explain why some—but not all—requirements are normative in the sense of being related to normative reasons in some robust way. According to the reasons-sensitive view, normative requirements are those and only those which are sensitive to normative reasons. On this account, normative requirements are second-order statements about what there is conclusive reason to do, in the broad sense of the term. According to the reasons-providing view—which I (...) attribute to John Broome—normative requirements are those and only those which constitute or provide normative reasons. I argue that the reasons-providing view is susceptible to two serious objections. First, the view generates an explanatory gap. Secondly, the view is implausible. I argue that these two objections give us reason to prefer the reasons-sensitive view of normative requirements over the reasons-providing view. (shrink)
Il existe de nombreuses sources d’exigences. Certaines exigences sont normatives dans la mesure où elles impliquent des affirmations concernant ce que nous avons raison de croire, faire, désirer, etc. À ce titre, les exigences morales sont parmi les meilleures candidates. Si la morale exige que l’on tienne notre promesse, il semble que nous avons une raison de la tenir. Cependant, ce ne sont pas toutes les exigences qui sont normatives en ce sens. Le catholicisme exige que l’on assiste à la (...) messe chaque dimanche. Il ne s’ensuit pas pour autant que nous avons une raison d’y assister. Pourquoi cela? Pourquoi certaines exigences sont normatives en ce sens, mais pas d’autres? En vue de répondre à cette question, je défends la conception reasons-sensitive des exigences normatives, selon laquelle les exigences normatives sont celles et seulement celles qui sont sensibles aux raisons. Par contre, cette conception n’est pas la seule disponible. Selon ce que j’appelle la conception reasons-providing, les exigences normatives sont celles et seulement celles qui fournissent des raisons. Je soutiens que cette conception-ci est vulnérable à deux objections, ce qui nous donne raison de préférer la première. (shrink)
Errol Lord has proposed a novel theory of rationality, what he calls Reasons Responsiveness. The theory makes rationality depend on an interesting mix of how well an agent responds to their perspective and the factivity of that perspective. In short, it says that what it is to be rational is to respond correctly to possessed objective normative reasons. To get a sense of the view it helps to first introduce some alternatives.
There is a growing consensus, long maintained by Derek Parfit, that there is an important distinction between what we have reason to do on the one hand, and what it is rational for us to do on the other. Philosophers are now realising that there is a conceptual distinction between rationality and normativity. Given this distinction, it thus becomes a substantive question whether rationality is genuinely normative; that is, whether there is any reason to do what rationality requires. While some (...) philosophers have argued that we sometimes have reason to do what rationality requires, it is notoriously difficult to show that there are always universal and categorical reasons to do what rationality requires. But if it is not the case that there are always universal and categorical reasons to do what rationality requires, then rationality is not genuinely normative.This dissertation offers a vindication of the normativity of rationality. I maintain that there is a robust relation between rational requirements and normative reasons. In arguing for this claim, I develop what I call the reasons-sensitive view of rationality, according to which rational requirements are normative verdicts: they are second-order claims about what there is conclusive reason of rationality to do. This view explains why there are always universal and categorical reasons to be rational. So while we may not always have most reason to do what it is rational for us to do, there is always some reason—reasons of rationality—to do what it is rational for us to do. I then show how this reasons-sensitive view addresses and responds to what I diagnose to be the major sources of skepticism about the normativity of rationality. (shrink)