In recent years, the notion of a reason has come to occupy a central place in both metaethics and normative theory more broadly. Indeed, many philosophers have come to view reasons as providing the basis of normativity itself . The common conception is that reasons are facts that count in favor of some act or attitude. More recently, philosophers have begun to appreciate a distinction between objective and subjective reasons, where (roughly) objective reasons are determined by the facts, while subjective reasons are determined by one's beliefs. My goal in this paper is to offer a plausible theory of subjective reasons. Although much attention has been focused on theories of objective reasons, very little has been offered in the literature regarding what sort of account of subjective reasons we should adopt; and what has been offered is rather perfunctory, and requires filling-out. Taking what has been said thus far as a starting point, I will consider several putative theories of subjective reasons, offering objections and amendments along the way, will settle on what I take to be a highly plausible account, and will defend that account against objections.
KeywordsReasons Subjective reasons Normativity
I would like to thank Jonathan Dancy, Mark Schroeder, David Sosa, and two anonymous referees for Ethical Theory and Moral Practice for very helpful discussion and/or comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
- Cullity G, Gaut B (1997) Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Frankish K (2009) Partial Belief and Flat-Out Belief. In: Huber F and Schmidt-Petri C (eds) Degrees of Belief. Springer, Synthese Library, pp 75–93Google Scholar
- Frege G (1918/1988) Thoughts. In: Salmon N, Soames S (eds) Propositions and Attitudes. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 33–55Google Scholar
- Hurley S (1989) Natural Reasons. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Lewis D (1973) Counterfactuals. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Parfit D (2011) On What Matters. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Raz J (2009) Reasons: Practical and Adaptive. In: Sobel D, Wall W (eds) Reasons for Action. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Strandberg C (2008) Particularism and Supervenience. In: Shafer-Landau R (ed) Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 3. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 249–60Google Scholar
- Way J (2009) Two Accounts of the Normativity of Rationality. J Ethics Soc Philos http://jesp.org/articles/download/TwoAccountsOfTheNormativityOfRationality.pdf
- Zangwill N (2008) Moral Dependence. In: Shafer-Landau R (ed) Oxford Studies in Metaethics, vol 3. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 109–27Google Scholar