A “good” explanation of Five Puzzles about Reasons

Journal article

Finlay, Stephen. (2019). A “good” explanation of Five Puzzles about Reasons. Philosophical Perspectives. 33(1), pp. 62 - 104. https://doi.org/10.1111/phpe.12126
AuthorsFinlay, Stephen

[Extract] What does it mean for something, like the fact that rain is forecast, to be a normative reason for an action, like taking your umbrella, or attitude, like believing it will rain? According to a popular view, concepts of “reasons” are all concepts of some kind of explanation.1 But explanations of what? On one way of developing this idea, the concept of a normative reason for an agent S to do A is that of an explanation why it would be good (in some way, to some degree) for S to do A.2 This Reasons as Explanations of Goodness hypothesis (REG) has numerous virtues and champions. But like every theory of normative reasons it faces some significant challenges, which prompt many more philosophers to be skeptical that it can account for all normative reasons. This paper demonstrates how five different puzzles about normative reasons can be solved by paying attention to how the concept of goodness is context‐sensitive—and how this implies that talk about reasons is also context‐sensitive. Rather than asking simply whether certain facts are reasons for S to do A, we need to explore how context affects whether it is correct to describe a fact as “a reason” for S to do A.

JournalPhilosophical Perspectives
Journal citation33 (1), pp. 62 - 104
PublisherWiley-Liss Inc.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/phpe.12126
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85083976660
Page range62 - 104
Research GroupDianoia Institute of Philosophy
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Place of publicationUnited States of America
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