As Kant claimed in the Groundwork, and as the idea has been developed by Korsgaard 1997, Bratman 1987, and Broome 2002. This formulation is agnostic on whether reasons for ends derive from our desiring those ends, or from the relation of those ends to things of independent value. However, desire-based theorists may deny, against Hubin 1999, that their theory is a combination of a principle of instrumental transmission and the principle that reasons for ends are provided by desires. (...) Instead, they may say, there is just one principle, a principle of, if you will, instrumental transmutation: if one desires the end, then one has reason to take the means. See the discussion of General Production, in section 8, for a doubt about this. (shrink)
In Liberalism without Perfection, Jonathan Quong develops what is perhaps the most comprehensive defense of the consensus model of public reason – a model which incorporates both a public-reasons-only requirement and an accessibility requirement framed in terms of shared evaluative standards. While the consensus model arguably predominates amongst public reason liberals, it is criticized by convergence theorists who reject both the public-reasons-only requirement and the accessibility requirement. In this paper, I argue that while we have good reason to (...) reject Quong’s call for a public-reasons-only requirement, all public reason liberals should endorse at least some shared evaluative standards and, hence, an accessibility requirement. (shrink)
Scientific reasoning is—and ought to be—conducted in accordance with the axioms of probability. This Bayesian view—so called because of the central role it accords to a theorem first proved by Thomas Bayes in the late eighteenth ...
The paper discusses the principle by which we reason to what is ‘true in fiction’. The focus is David Lewis's article ‘Truth in Fiction’ (1978) which proposes an analysis in terms of counterfactuals and possible worlds. It is argued thatLewis's account is inadequate in detail and also in principle in that it conflicts radically with basic and familiar tenets of literary criticism. Literary critical reasoning about fiction concerns not the discovery of facts in possible worlds but the recovery of meanings (...) in interpretative frameworks. The model theoretic approach fails to account for common literary or rhetorical devices like unreliable narration, connotation and point of view. And in explaining indeterminacy of content in terms of truth-value gaps it gives too simplistic an account of critical reasoning about character motivation and thematic development. A more adequate account of content-indeterminacy can be provided through a comparison of the interpretation of fiction with the interpretation of human action. A broader motif in the paper is the underlying tension between what is required for the logic of fiction and what is required for the aesthetics of fiction. (shrink)
Practical Reason and Norms focuses on three problems: In what way are rules normative, and how do they differ from ordinary reasons? What makes normative systems systematic? What distinguishes legal systems, and in what consists their normativity? All three questions are answered by taking reasons as the basic normative concept, and showing the distinctive role reasons have in every case, thus paving the way to a unified account of normativity. Rules are a structure of reasons to (...) perform the required act and an exclusionary reason not to follow some competing reasons. Exclusionary reasons are explained, and used to unlock the secrets of orders, promises, and decisions as well as rules. Games are used to exemplify normative systems. Inevitably, the analysis extends to some aspects of normative discourse, which is truth-apt, but with a diminished assertoric force. (shrink)
What is the relation between a reason and an action when the reason explains the action by giving the agent's reason for doing what he did? We may call such explanations rationalizations, and say that the reason rationalizes the action. In this paper I want to defend the ancient - and common-sense - position that rationalization is a species of ordinary causal explanation. The defense no doubt requires some redeployment, but not more or less complete abandonment of the position, as (...) urged by many recent writers. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary work is a collection of major essays on reasoning: deductive, inductive, abductive, belief revision, defeasible, cross cultural, conversational, and argumentative. They are each oriented toward contemporary empirical studies. The book focuses on foundational issues, including paradoxes, fallacies, and debates about the nature of rationality, the traditional modes of reasoning, as well as counterfactual and causal reasoning. It also includes chapters on the interface between reasoning and other forms of thought. In general, this last set of essays represents growth (...) points in reasoning research, drawing connections to pragmatics, cross-cultural studies, emotion and evolution. (shrink)
Justin Snedegar develops and defends contrastivism about reasons. This is the view that normative reasons are fundamentally reasons for or against actions or attitudes only relative to sets of alternatives. Simply put, reasons are always reasons to do one thing rather than another, instead of simply being reasons to do something, full stop.
Nearly all students believe academic cheating is wrong, yet few students say they would report witnessed acts of cheating. To explain this apparent tension, the present research examined college students’ reasoning about whether to report plagiarism or other forms of cheating. Study 1 examined students’ conflicts when deciding whether to report cheating. Most students gave reasons against reporting a peer as well as reasons in favor of reporting. Study 2 provided experimental confirmation that the contextual factors referenced by (...) Study 1 participants in fact influenced decisions about whether to report cheating. Overall, the findings indicate that students often decide against reporting peers’ acts of cheating, though not due to a lack of concern about integrity. Rather, students may refrain from reporting because of conflicting concerns, lack of information about school policy, and perceived better alternatives to reporting. (shrink)
The topic of “reason and faith in God” has challenged philosophers and theologians since the beginning of their disciplines, and it has left many inquirers confused. The key notions of faith and reason are often left unclear, and this complicates inquiry about faith in God. Many inquirers end up puzzled about the significance of the distinction between reason and faith. This paper outlines an approach to reason and faith in God that explains how faith in God can be well-grounded in (...) reason as evidence, even if reason as an argument does not apply in a case. It identifies distinctive roles for experience and defense in an account of faith in God. (shrink)
David Enoch, in his paper “Why Idealize?”, argues that theories of normative reasons that hold that normative facts are subject or response-dependent and include an idealization condition might have a problem in justifying the need for idealization. I argue that at least some response-dependence conceptions of normative reasons can justify idealization. I explore two ways of responding to Enoch’s challenge. One way involves a revisionary stance on the ontological commitments of the normative discourse about reasons. To establish (...) this point, I argue by analogy with the case of color perception. To make the analogy, it suffices to show that even if colors are response-dependent properties, it does not follow that some kind of idealization cannot be introduced to specify the truth conditions of color ascriptions. The second route involves the denial of Enoch’s contention that our normative discourse is implicitly committed to a realist ontology. I adduce reasons for thinking that our normative discourse only presupposes a possibility of misrepresentation. However, this feature of the normative discourse does not favor robustly objectivist as opposed to response-dependence accounts of normative reasons. Thus, I argue that proponents of response-dependence accounts can use this feature to answer the question of why to idealize. (shrink)
This book first argues that what philosophers are really after, or at least should be after, when they seek a theory of explanation, is a theory of answers to why-questions. The book's main thesis, then, is a theory of reasons why. Every reason why some event happened is either a cause, or a ground, of that event. Challenging this thesis are many examples philosophers have thought they have found of "non-causal explanations." Reasons Why uses two ideas to show (...) that these examples are not counterexamples to the theory it defends. First is the idea that not every part of a good response to a why-question is part of an answer to that why-question. Second is the idea that not every reason why something is a reason why an event happened is itself a reason why that event happened. (shrink)
Joel Feinberg : In Memoriam. Preface. Part I: INTRODUCTION TO THE NATURE AND VALUE OF PHILOSOPHY. 1. Joel Feinberg: A Logic Lesson. 2. Plato: "Apology." 3. Bertrand Russell: The Value of Philosophy. PART II: REASON AND RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 1. The Existence and Nature of God. 1.1 Anselm of Canterbury: The Ontological Argument, from Proslogion. 1.2 Gaunilo of Marmoutiers: On Behalf of the Fool. 1.3 L. Rowe: The Ontological Argument. 1.4 Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Five Ways, from Summa Theologica. 1.5 Samuel (...) Clarke: A Modern Formulation of the Cosmological Argument. 1.6 William L. Rowe: The Cosmological Argument. 1.7 William Paley: The Argument from Design. 1.8 Michael Ruse: The Design Argument. 1.9 David Hume: Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. 2. The Problem of Evil. 2.1 Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Rebellion. 2.2 J. L. Mackie: Evil and Omnipotence. 2.3 Peter van Inwagen: The Argument from Evil. 2.4 Michael Murray and Michael Rea: The Argument from Evil. 2.5 B. C. Johnson: God and the Problem of Evil. 3. Reason and Faith. 3.1 W. K. Clifford: The Ethics of Belief. 3.2 William James: The Will to Believe. 3.3 Kelly James Clark: Without Evidence or Argument. 3.4 Blaise Pascal: The Wager. 3.5 Lawrence Shapiro: Miracles and Justification. 3.6 Simon Blackburn: Infini-Rien. Part III. HUMAN KNOWLEDGE: ITS GROUNDS AND LIMITS. 1. Skepticism. 1.1 John Pollock: A Brain in a Vat. 1.2 Michael Huemer: Three Skeptical Arguments. 1.3 Robert Audi: Skepticism. 2. The Nature and Value of Knowledge. 2.1 Plato: Knowledge as Justified True Belief. 2.2 Edmund Gettier: Is Justified True Belief Knowledge? 2.3 James Cornman, Keith Lehrer, and George Pappas: An Analysis of Knowledge. 2.4 Gilbert Ryle: Knowing How and Knowing That. 2.5 Plato: "Meno". 2.6 Linda Zagzebski, Epistemic Good and The Good Life. 3. Our Knowledge of the External World. 3.1 Bertrand Russell: Appearance and Reality and the Existence of Matter. 3.2 René Descartes: Meditations on First Philosophy. 3.3 John Locke: The Causal Theory of Perception. 3.4 George Berkeley: Of the Principles of Human Knowledge. 3.5 G. E. Moore: Proof of an External World. 4. The Methods of Science. 4.1 David Hume: An Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding. 4.2 Wesley C. Salmon: An Encounter with David Hume. 4.3 Karl Popper: Science: Conjectures and Refutations. 4.4 Philip Kitcher: Believing Where We Cannot Prove. Part IV: MIND AND ITS PLACE IN NATURE. 1. The Mind-Body Problem. 1.1 Brie Gertler: In Defense of Mind--Body Dualism. 1.2 Frank Jackson: The Qualia Problem. 1.3 David Papineau: The Case for Materialism. 1.4 Paul Churchland: Functionalism and Eliminative Materialism. 2. Can Non-Humans Think? 2.1 Alan Turing: Computing Machinery and Intelligence. 2.2 John R. Searle: Minds, Brains, and Programs. 2.3 William G. Lycan: Robots and Minds. 3. Personal Identity and the Survival of Death. 3.1 John Locke: The Prince and the Cobbler. 3.2 Thomas Reid: Of Mr. Locke’s Account of Our Personal Identity. 3.3 David Hume: The Self. 3.4 Derek Parfit: Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons. 3.5 Shelly Kagan: What Matters. 3.6 John Perry: A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality. Part V: DETERMINISM, FREE WILL, AND RESPONSIBILITY. 1. Libertarianism: The Case for Free Will and Its Incompatibility with Determinism. 1.1 Roderick M. Chisholm: Human Freedom and the Self. 1.2 Robert Kane: Free Will: Ancient Dispute, New Themes. 2. Hard Determinism: The Case for Determinism and its Incompatibility with Its Incompatibility with Any Important Sense of Free Will. 2.1 James Rachels: The case against Free Will. 2.2 Derk Pereboom: Why We Have No Free Will and Can Live Without It. 3. Compatibilism: The Case for Determinism and Its Compatibility with the Most Important Sense of Free Will. 3.1 David Hume: Of Liberty and Necessity. 3.2 Helen Beebee: Compatibilism and the Ability to do Otherwise. 4. Freedom and Moral Responsibility. 4.1 Galen Strawson: Luck Swallows Everything. 4.2 Harry Frankfurt: Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility. 4.3 Thomas Nagel: Moral Luck. 4.4 Susan Wolf: Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility. Part VI: MORALITY AND ITS CRITICS. 1. Changes to Morality. 1.1 Joel Feinberg: Psychological Egoism. 1.2 Plato: The Immoralist’s Challenge. 1.3 Friedrich Nietzche: Master and Slave Morality. 1.4 Richard Joyce: The Evolutionary Debunking of Morality. 2. Proposed Standards and Right of Conduct. 2.1 Russ Shafer-Landau: Ethical Subjectivism. 2.2 Mary Midgley: Trying Out One’s New Sword. 2.3 Aristotle: Virtue and the Good Life. 2.4 Thomas Hobbes: Leviathan. 2.5 Plato: Euthyphro. 2.6 Immanuel Kant: The Good Will and the Categorical Imperative. 2.7 J.S. Mill: Utilitarianism, Chapters 2 and 4. 2.8 W. D. Ross: What Makes Right Acts Right? 2.9 Hilde Lindemann: What Is Feminist Ethics? 3. Ethical Problems. 3.1 Kwame Anthony Appiah: What Will Future Generations Condemn Us For? 3.2 Peter Singer: Famine, Affluence and Morality. 3.3 John Harris: The Survival Lottery. 3.4 James Rachels: Active and Passive Euthanasia. 3.5 Mary Anne Warren: The Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. 3.6 Don Marquis: Why Abortion Is Immoral. 4. The Meaning of Life. 4.1 Epicurus: Letter to Menoeceus. 4.2 Richard Taylor: The Meaning of Life. 4.3 Richard Kraut: Desire and the Human Good. 4.4 Leo Tolstoy: My Confession. 4.5 Susan Wolf: Happiness and Meaning. 4.6 Thomas Nagel: The Absurd. (shrink)
In this paper, we argue for a particular informative and unified analysis of normative reasons. According to this analysis, a fact F is a reason to act in a certain way just in case it is evidence that one ought to act in that way. Similarly, F is a reason to believe a certain proposition just in case it is evidence for the truth of this proposition. Putting the relatively uncontroversial claim about reasons for belief to one side, (...) we present several arguments in favor of our analysis of reasons for action. We then turn to consider a series of objections to the analysis. We conclude that there are good reasons to accept the analysis and that the objections do not succeed. (shrink)
What kind of thing is a reason for action? What is it to act for a reason? And what is the connection between acting for a reason and rationality? There is controversy about the many issues raised by these questions. In this paper I shall answer the first question with a conception of practical reasons that I call ‘Factualism’, which says that all reasons are facts. I defend this conception against its main rival, Psychologism, which says that practical (...)reasons are mental states or mental facts, and also against a variant of Factualism that says that some practical reasons are facts and others are false beliefs. I argue that the conception of practical reasons defended here provides plausible answers to the second and third questions above; and gives a more unified and satisfactory picture of practical reasons than those offered by its rivals. (shrink)
Many philosophers have been attracted to the view that reasons are premises of good reasoning – that reasons to φ are premises of good reasoning towards φ-ing. However, while this reasoning view is indeed attractive, it faces a problem accommodating outweighed reasons. In this article, I argue that the standard solution to this problem is unsuccessful and propose an alternative, which draws on the idea that good patterns of reasoning can be defeasible. I conclude by drawing out (...) implications for the debate over pragmatic reasons for belief and other attitudes and for one influential form of reductionism about the normative. (shrink)
A clear, accessible exploration of how and why we love by prominent philosopher and bestselling author Harry Frankfurt In The Reasons of Love, leading moral philosopher and bestselling author Harry Frankfurt argues that the key to a fulfilled life is to pursue wholeheartedly what one cares about, that love is the most authoritative form of caring, and that the purest form of love is, in a complicated way, self-love. Through caring, we infuse the world with meaning. Caring provides us (...) with stable ambitions and concerns; it shapes the framework of aims and interests within which we lead our lives. Frankfurt goes on to explain that the most important form of caring is love, a nonvoluntary, disinterested concern for the flourishing of what is loved. And he contends that the purest form of love is self-love. This sounds perverse, but self-love—as distinct from self-indulgence—is at heart a disinterested concern for whatever it is that the person loves. The most elementary form of self-love is nothing more than the desire of a person to love. Insofar as this is true, self-love is simply a commitment to finding meaning in our lives. (shrink)
Joseph Raz presents a penetrating exploration of the interdependence of value, reason, and the will. These essays illuminate a wide range of questions concerning fundamental aspects of human thought and action. Engaging Reason is a summation of many years of original, compelling, and influential work by a major contemporary philosopher.
We call beliefs reasonable or unreasonable, justified or unjustified. What does this imply about belief? Does this imply that we are responsible for our beliefs and that we should be blamed for our unreasonable convictions? Or does it imply that we are in control of our beliefs and that what we believe is up to us? Reason Without Freedom argues that the major problems of epistemology have their roots in concerns about our control over and responsibility for belief. David Owens (...) focuses on the arguments of Descartes, Locke and Hume - the founders of epistemology - and presents a critical discussion of the current trends in contemporary epistemology. He proposes that the problems we confront today - scepticism, the analysis of knowlege, and debates on epistemic justification - can be tackled only once we have understood the moral psychology of belief. This can be resolved when we realise that our responsibility for beliefs is profoundly different from our rationality and agency, and that memory and testimony can preserve justified belief without preserving the evidence which might be used to justify it. Reason Without Freedom should be of value to those interested in contemporary epistemology, philosophy of mind and action, ethics, and the history of 17th and 18th century. (shrink)
A promising but underexplored view about normative reasons is contrastivism, which holds that considerations are fundamentally reasons for things only relative to sets of alternatives. Contrastivism gains an advantage over non-contrastive theories by holding that reasons relative to different sets of alternatives can be independent of one another. But this feature also raises a serious problem: we need some way of constraining this independence. I develop a version of contrastivism that provides the needed constraints, and that is (...) independently motivated by the widespread idea that reasons involve the promotion of various kinds of objectives. (shrink)
This book attempts to place a realist view of ethics (the claim that there are facts of the matter in ethics as elsewhere) within a broader context. It starts with a discussion of why we should mind about the difference between right and wrong, asks what account we should give of our ability to learn from our moral experience, and looks in some detail at the different sorts of ways in which moral reasons can combine to show us what (...) we should do in the circumstances. The second half of the book uses these results to mount an attack on consequentialism in ethics, arguing that there are more sorts of reasons around than consequentialists can even dream of. (shrink)
Contrastivism about reasons is the view that ‘reason’ expresses a relation with an argument place for a set of alternatives. This is in opposition to a more traditional theory on which reasons are reasons for things simpliciter. I argue that contrastivism provides a solution to a puzzle involving reason claims that explicitly employ ‘rather than’. Contrastivism solves the puzzle by allowing that some fact might be a reason for an action out of one set of alternatives without (...) being a reason for that action out of a different set of alternatives. (shrink)
The cognitive developmental theory of ethics suggests that there is a positive relationship between ethical reasoning and ethical behavior. In this study, we trained a sample of accounting and finance students in performing competitive stock trading in our state-of-the-art trading room. The subjects then performed trading of stocks under two experimental conditions: insider information, and no-insider information where significant performance-based financial awards were at stake. We also administered the Defining Issues Test. Ethical behavior, as the dependent variable was measured in (...) a binary scale: whether the subjects used insider information for trading of stocks or not. Ethical reasoning as measured by the DIT P-score indicated statistically significant effect on ethical behavior. The results have important implications for recruitment and training of professionals engaged in the use of financial markets for securities trading. (shrink)
There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, (...) together with a ‘weighing relation’ between different combinations of reasons. By explaining how someone’s preferences may vary with changes in his or her motivating reasons, our theory illuminates the relationship between deliberation about reasons and rational choices. Although primarily positive, the theory can also help us think about how those preferences and choices ought to respond to normative reasons. (shrink)
What can reason do for us and what can't it do? This is the question examined by Herbert A. Simon, who received the 1978 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences "for his pioneering work on decision-making processes in economic organizations." The ability to apply reason to the choice of actions is supposed to be one of the defining characteristics of our species. In the first two chapters, the author explores the nature and limits of human reason, comparing and evaluating the major (...) theoretical frameworks that have been erected to explain reasoning processes. He also discusses the interaction of thinking and emotion in the choice of our actions. In the third and final chapter, the author applies the theory of bounded rationality to social institutions and human behavior, and points out the problems created by limited attention span human inability to deal with more than one difficult problem at a time. He concludes that we must recognize the limitations on our capabilities for rational choice and pursue goals that, in their tentativeness and flexibility, are compatible with those limits. (shrink)
The philosophical literature on reasoning is dominated by the assumption that reasoning is essentially a matter of following rules. This paper challenges this view, by arguing that it misrepresents the nature of reasoning as a personal level activity. Reasoning must reflect the reasoner’s take on her evidence. The rule-following model seems ill-suited to accommodate this fact. Accordingly, this paper suggests replacing the rule-following model with a different, semantic approach to reasoning.
I defend the view that a reason for someone to do something is just a reason why she ought to do it. This simple view has been thought incompatible with the existence of reasons to do things that we may refrain from doing or even ought not to do. For it is widely assumed that there are reasons why we ought to do something only if we ought to do it. I present several counterexamples to this principle and (...) reject some ways of understanding "ought" so that the principle is compatible with my examples. I conclude with a hypothesis for when and why the principle should be expected to fail. (shrink)
In Reasons and the Good Roger Crisp answers some of the oldest questions in moral philosophy. Fundamental to ethics, he claims, is the idea of ultimate reasons for action; and he argues controversially that these reasons do not depend on moral concepts. He investigates the nature of reasons themselves, and how we come to know them. He defends a hedonistic theory of well-being and an account of practical reason according to which we can give some, though (...) not overriding, priority to our own good over that of others. (shrink)
Ethics Done Right examines how practical reasoning can be put into the service of ethical and moral theory. Elijah Millgram shows that the key to thinking about ethics is to understand generally how to make decisions. The papers in this volume support a methodological approach and trace the connections between two kinds of theory in utilitarianism, in Kantian ethics, in virtue ethics, in Hume's moral philosophy, and in moral particularism. Unlike other studies of ethics, Ethics Done Right does not advocate (...) a particular moral theory. Rather, it offers a tool that enables one to decide for oneself. (shrink)
Some sensory experiences are pleasant, some unpleasant. This is a truism. But understanding what makes these experiences pleasant and unpleasant is not an easy job. Various difficulties and puzzles arise as soon as we start theorizing. There are various philosophical theories on offer that seem to give different accounts for the positive or negative affective valences of sensory experiences. In this paper, we will look at the current state of art in the philosophy of mind, present the main contenders, critically (...) compare and contrast them. In particular, we want to examine how they handle the reason-giving power of affective states. We will look into two representationalist proposals (Evaluativism and Imperativism) and a functionalist proposal, and argue that, contrary to their own advertisements, the representationalist proposals don’t have good accounts of why and how sensory affect can motivate, rationalize, and justify subsequent behavior and intentional mental activity. We will show that our own functionalist proposal does a much better job in this regard, and that when the representationalist proposals are modified to do a better job, they fare better not because of their representationalist credentials but due to their functionalist ones. (shrink)
What is it to have a reason? According to one common idea, the "Factoring Account", you have a reason to do A when there is a reason for you to do A which you have--which is somehow in your possession or grasp. In this paper, I argue that this common idea is false. But though my arguments are based on the practical case, the implications of this are likely to be greatest in epistemology: for the pitfalls we fall into when (...) trying to defend the Factoring Account reflect very well the major developments in empiricist epistemology during the 20th century. I conjecture that this is because epistemologists have been--wrongly--wedded to the Factoring Account about evidence, which I conjecture is a certain kind of reason to believe. (shrink)
Regress arguments have convinced many that reasoning cannot require beliefs about what follows from what. In this paper I argue that this is a mistake. Regress arguments rest on dubious (although deeply entrenched) assumptions about the nature of reasoning — most prominently, the assumption that believing p by reasoning is simply a matter of having a belief in p with the right causal ancestry. I propose an alternative account, according to which beliefs about what follows from what play a constitutive (...) role in reasoning. (shrink)
This paper investigates two puzzles in practical reason and proposes a solution to them. First, sometimes, when we are practically certain that neither of two alternatives is better than or as good as the other with respect to what matters in the choice between them, it nevertheless seems perfectly rational to continue to deliberate, and sometimes the result of that deliberation is a conclusion that one alternative is better, where there is no error in one’s previous judgment. Second, there are (...) striking differences between rational agents – some rational agents have most reason to pursue careers on Wall Street while others have most reason to take up a career in teaching, or scuba diving, or working for political causes. These differences aren’t plausibly explained by ‘passive’ facts about our psychology or their causal interaction with our environment; instead, these facts seem in some sense to ‘express who we are’. But what is this sense? These puzzles disappear if we adopt a novel view about the source of the normativity of reasons – some reasons are given to us and others are reasons in virtue of an act of will. We make certain considerations reasons through an act of will and thus sometimes make it true through an act of agency that we have most reason to do one thing rather than another. (shrink)
Bernard Williams's motivational reasons-internalism fails to capture our first-order reasons judgements, while Derek Parfit's nonnaturalistic reasons-externalism cannot explain the nature or normative authority of reasons. This paper offers an intermediary view, reformulating scepticism about external reasons as the claim not that they don't exist but rather that they don't matter. The end-relational theory of normative reasons is proposed, according to which a reason for an action is a fact that explains why the action would (...) be good relative to some end, where the relevant end for any ascription of reasons is determined by the speaker's conversational context. Because these ends need not be the agent's ends, Williams is wrong to reject the existence of external reasons. But contra Parfit, a reason for action is only important for an agent if it is motivationally internal to that agent. (shrink)
In the late summer of 1998, the authors, a cognitive scientist and a logician, started talking about the relevance of modern mathematical logic to the study of human reasoning, and we have been talking ever since. This book is an interim report of that conversation. It argues that results such as those on the Wason selection task, purportedly showing the irrelevance of formal logic to actual human reasoning, have been widely misinterpreted, mainly because the picture of logic current in psychology (...) and cognitive science is completely mistaken. We aim to give the reader a more accurate picture of mathematical logic and, in doing so, hope to show that logic, properly conceived, is still a very helpful tool in cognitive science. The main thrust of the book is therefore constructive. We give a number of examples in which logical theorizing helps in understanding and modeling observed behavior in reasoning tasks, deviations of that behavior in a psychiatric disorder (autism), and even the roots of that behavior in the evolution of the brain. (shrink)
In this important new collection, Gilbert Harman presents a selection of fifteen interconnected essays on fundamental issues at the center of analytic philosophy. The book opens with a group of four essays discussing basic principles of reasoning and rationality. The next three essays argue against the once popular idea that certain claims are true and knowable by virtue of meaning. In the third group of essays Harman presents his own view of meaning and the possibility of thinking in language The (...) final three essays investigate the nature of mind, developing further the themes already set out. Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind offers an integrated presentation of this rich and influential body of work. which Harman has developed over thirty years. (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)
Reasoning in Biological Discoveries brings together a series of essays, which focus on one of the most heavily debated topics of scientific discovery. Collected together and richly illustrated, Darden's essays represent a groundbreaking foray into one of the major problems facing scientists and philosophers of science. Divided into three sections, the essays focus on broad themes, notably historical and philosophical issues at play in discussions of biological mechanism; and the problem of developing and refining reasoning strategies, including interfield relations and (...) anomaly resolution. Darden summarizes the philosophy of discovery and elaborates on the role that mechanisms play in biological discovery. Throughout the book, she uses historical case studies to extract advisory reasoning strategies for discovery. Examples in genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, immunology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology reveal the process of discovery in action. (shrink)
When we have a normative reason, and we act for that reason, it becomes our motivating reason. But we can have either kind of reason without having the other. Thus, if I jump into the canal, my motivating reason was provided by my belief; but I had no normative reason to jump. I merely thought I did. And, if I failed to notice that the canal was frozen, I had a reason not to jump that, because it was unknown to (...) me, did not motivate me. Though we can have normative reasons without being motivated, and vice versa, such reasons are closely related to our motivation. There are, however, very different views about what this relation is. This disagreement raises wider questions about what normative reasons are, and about which reasons there are. After sketching some of these views, I shall discuss some arguments by Williams, and then say where, in my opinion, the truth lies. [...] I [will] suggest why, as I believe, we should be non-reductive normative realists, and should regard all reasons as external. (shrink)
This paper explores various subtleties in our ordinary thought and talk about normative reasons—subtleties which, if taken seriously, have various upshots, both substantive and methodological. I focus on two subtleties in particular. The first concerns the use of reason (in its normative sense) as both a count noun and as a mass noun, and the second concerns the context-sensitivity of normative reasons-claims. The more carefully we look at the language of reasons, I argue, the clearer its limitations (...) and liabilities become. The cumulative upshot is that although talk of reasons is intelligible and useful for the purposes of communication, we should be wary of placing much weight on it when engaging in substantive normative inquiry. By way of illustration, I consider some potential pitfalls of taking our talk of reasons too seriously, explaining how careful attention to the language of reasons undermines the main argument for moral particularism, Mark Schroeder’s recent defense of Humeanism about practical reasons, and the “reasons-first” program in metanormativity. (shrink)
The central argument that Leslie Smith makes in this study is that reasoning by mathematical induction develops during childhood. The basis for this claim is a study conducted with children aged five to seven years in school years one and two.