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Might There Be External Reasons?

In J. E. J. Altham & Ross Harrison (eds.), World, Mind and Ethics: Essays on the Ethical Philosophy of Bernard Williams. Cambridge University Press (1995)

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  1. Can There Be Government House Reasons for Action?Hille Paakunainen - 2017 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 12 (1):56-93.
    I defend the relatively orthodox view that reasons for action are premises in good practical reasoning, against recent counterexamples that suggest that, like “government house” moral justifications, some reasons are to be ignored in deliberation. I also explain, positively, what is right about the orthodoxy. Unless reasons are premises in good practical reasoning, reasons cannot be normative in the way they are usually taken to be, and relatedly, are unfit to play certain familiar theoretical and related everyday roles that give (...)
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  • Modern Moral Conscience.Tom O’Shea - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (4):582-600.
    This article challenges the individualism and neutrality of modern moral conscience. It looks to the history of the concept to excavate an older tradition that takes conscience to be social and morally responsive, while arguing that dominant contemporary justifications of conscience in terms of integrity are inadequate without reintroducing these social and moral traits. This prompts a rethinking of the nature and value of conscience: first, by demonstrating that a morally-responsive conscience is neither a contradiction in terms nor a political (...)
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  • Transformative Choice, Practical Reasons and Trust.Rob Compaijen - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 26 (2):275-292.
    In this article I reflect on the question of whether we can have reason to make transformative choices. In attempting to answer it, I do three things. First, I bring forward an internalist account of practical reasons which entails the idea that agents should deliberate to the best of their ability. Second, I discuss L.A. Paul’s views on transformative choice, arguing that, although they present a real problem, the problem is not as profound as she believes it is. Third, I (...)
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  • Feeling Pain for the Very First Time: The Normative Knowledge Argument.Guy Kahane - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (1):20-49.
    In this paper I present a new argument against internalist theories of practical reason. My argument is inpired by Frank Jackson's celebrated Knowledge Argument. I ask what will happen when an agent experiences pain for the first time. Such an agent, I argue, will gain new normative knowledge that internalism cannot explain. This argument presents a similar difficulty for other subjectivist and constructivist theories of practical reason and value. I end by suggesting that some debates in meta-ethics and in the (...)
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  • The Normativity of Rationality.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    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.
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  • The Possibility of Love Independent Reasons.Jussi Suikkanen - 2011 - Essays in Philosophy 12 (1):32-54.
    This article is a critical examination of Harry Frankfurt's view of reasons. Frankfurt has argued in a number of recent books for the view which holds that all practical reasons are a function of what we love. This article examines Frankfurt's key argument for this claim. It uses the analogy of a similar argument in the domain of epistemic reasons to show where Frankfurt's argument fails. It also argues that there are a number of plausible views about practical reasons that (...)
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  • Desire-Based Theories of Reasons, Pleasure, and Welfare.Chris Heathwood - 2011 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:79-106.
    One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one’s desires provide one with reasons to act. On the value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories about two other phenomena: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about either pleasure or welfare (...)
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  • Moral Requirements Are Still Not Rational Requirements.Paul Noordhof - 1999 - Analysis 59 (3):127-136.
    Moral requirements apply to rational agents as such. But it is a conceptual truth that if agents are morally required to act in a certain way then we expect them to act in that way. Being rational, as such, must therefore suffice to ground our expectation that rational agents will do what they are morally required to do. But how could this be so? It could only be so if we think of the moral requirements that apply to agents as (...)
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  • On the Connection Between Normative Reasons and the Possibility of Acting for Those Reasons.Neil Sinclair - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1211-1223.
    According to Bernard Williams, if it is true that A has a normative reason to Φ then it must be possible that A should Φ for that reason. This claim is important both because it restricts the range of reasons which agents can have and because it has been used as a premise in an argument for so-called ‘internalist’ theories of reasons. In this paper I rebut an apparent counterexamples to Williams’ claim: Schroeder’s example of Nate. I argue that this (...)
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  • The Asymmetry Between the Practical and the Epistemic: Arguing Against the Control-View.André J. Abath & Leonardo De Mello Ribeiro - 2013 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 17 (3):383.
    It is widely believed by philosophers that we human beings are capable of stepping back from inclinations to act in a certain way and consider whether we should do so. If we judge that there are enough reasons in favour of following our initial inclination, we are definitely motivated, and, if all goes well, we act. This view of human agency naturally leads to the idea that our actions are self-determined, or controlled by ourselves. Some go one step further to (...)
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  • Reasons Internalism and the Function of Normative Reasons.Neil Sinclair - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (2):209-229.
    What is the connection between reasons and motives? According to Reasons Internalism there is a non-trivial conceptual connection between normative reasons and the possibility of rationally accessing relevant motivation. Reasons Internalism is attractive insofar as it captures the thought that reasons are for reasoning with and repulsive insofar as it fails to generate sufficient critical distance between reasons and motives. Rather than directly adjudicate this dispute, I extract from it two generally accepted desiderata on theories of normative reasons and argue (...)
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  • Valor intrínseco y valor extrínseco en ética ambiental. Una alternativa antropocéntrica al instrumentalismo.Juan Pablo Hernandez - 2019 - Isegoría 61:641-654.
    In the first place, I propose to specify the debate between non-anthropocentrists and anthropocentrists as one between those who defend that the environment has intrinsic value, that is, value that while independent of all relation to human beings is still morally binding, and those who deny this, i.e., assert that the environment only has extrinsic value. I argue for the second option but claim that this should not be an obstacle to address some of the worries of environmental ethics, since (...)
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  • You Ought to Φ Only If You May Believe That You Ought to Φ.Benjamin Kiesewetter - 2016 - Philosophical Quarterly 66 (265):760-82.
    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 (...)
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  • Animality and Rationality.Sofia Miguens - 2019 - Con-Textos Kantianos 9:293-308.
    My main goal in this article is methodological: I want to spell out how a Kantian perspective could accommodate current empirical work on cognition, and in particular on emotion. Having chosen John McDowell as a guide, I try to characterize his view of moral experience and underline its Kantian traits. I start by identifying the conception of freedom as exemplified in the rational wolf thought experiment in Two Forms of Naturalism as the main Kantian trait. I then go through the (...)
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  • The Possibility of Practical Reason.J. David Velleman - 1996 - Ethics 106 (4):694-726.
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  • Recent Work on Internal and External Reasons.John Brunero - 2017 - American Philosophical Quarterly 54 (2):99-118.
    This paper examines some recent arguments for internalism that (i) appeal to an analogy between practical and theoretical reasons, (ii) look toward our practices of reasoning with others, or (iii) tie reasons to good deliberation. The conclusion of this paper is a skeptical one: none of these new arguments gives us sufficient reason to think that internalism is true.
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  • McDowell on External Reasons.John Brunero - 2008 - European Journal of Philosophy 16 (1):22-42.
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  • Reasons with Rationalism After All.Michael Smith - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):521-530.
    Kieran Setiya begins Reasons Without Rationalism by outlining and arguing for a schema in terms of which he thinks we best understand the nature of normative reasons for action. This is: " Reasons: The fact that p is a reason for A to ϕ just in case A has a collection of psychological states, C, such that the disposition to be moved to ϕ by C-and-the-belief-that-p is a good disposition of practical thought, and C contains no false beliefs. " As (...)
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  • An Ecumenical Account of Categorical Moral Reasons.Caj Strandberg - 2019 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 16 (2):160-188.
    According to an influential way of understanding the debate between internalism and externalism about normative reasons, these theories confront us with a dilemma. Internalism is taken to involve a view about rationality which is considered less philosophically problematic than its competitors, whereas externalism is taken to suggest a more contentious view concerning this notion. However, the assumption that externalism involves a more demanding notion of rationality implies that it is able to account for categorical moral reasons, whereas internalism is unable (...)
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  • Sobre a possibilidade de pensarmos o mundo: o debate entre John McDowell e Donald Davidson.Marco Aurelio Sousa Alves - 2008 - Dissertation, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais
    The thesis evaluates a contemporary debate concerning the very possibility of thinking about the world. In the first chapter, McDowell's critique of Davidson is presented, focusing on the coherentism defended by the latter. The critique of the myth of the given (as it appears in Sellars and Wittgenstein), as well as the necessity of a minimal empiricism (which McDowell finds in Quine and Kant), lead to an oscillation in contemporary thinking between two equally unsatisfactory ways of understanding the empirical content (...)
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  • Constitutivism.Paul Katsafanas - forthcoming - In Iain Thomson & Kelly Becker (eds.), The Cambridge History of Philosophy, 1945–2015. Cambridge University Press.
    A brief explanation and overview of constitutivism.
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  • Moral Realism, Normative Reasons, and Rational Intelligibility.Hallvard Lillehammer - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (1):47-69.
    This paper concerns a prima facie tension between the claims that agents have normative reasons obtaining in virtue of the nature of the options that confront them, and there is a non-trivial connection between the grounds of normative reasons and the upshots of sound practical reasoning. Joint commitment to these claims is shown to give rise to a dilemma. I argue that the dilemma is avoidable on a response dependent account of normative reasons accommodating both and by yielding as a (...)
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  • Autonomy as Second Nature: On McDowell's Aristotelian Naturalism.David Forman - 2008 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 51 (6):563-580.
    The concept of second nature plays a central role in McDowell's project of reconciling thought's external constraint with its spontaneity or autonomy: our conceptual capacities are natural in the sense that they are fully integrated into the natural world, but they are a second nature to us since they are not reducible to elements that are intelligible apart from those conceptual capacities. Rather than offering a theory of second nature and an account of how we acquire one, McDowell suggests that (...)
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  • The Doctrine of Internal Reasons.H. Lillehammer - 2000 - Journal of Value Inquiry 34 (4):507-516.
    According to advocates of internalism about reasons for action, there is an interesting connection between an agent’s reasons and the agent’s present desires. On the simplest version of this view, an agent has a reason to act a certain way at some time if and only if acting that way would promote his present desires. Let us call this the sub-Humean model.1 The sub-Humean model is widely regarded as too simple on the grounds that there are adverse conditions, such as (...)
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  • How Problematic for Morality is Internalism About Reasons?Simon Robertson - 2004 - Selected Papers Contributed to 5th International Congress of the Society for Analytical Philosophy.
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  • Acting on a Ground : Reasons, Rational Motivation, and Explanation.Magnus Frei - 2016 - Dissertation, Fribourg
    When someone does something for a reason, what are the reasons for which she does what she does? What is her ‘motivating reason’, as it is sometimes put? The simple answer is: it depends on what is meant by ‘motivating reason’. Non-Psychologists hold that motivating reasons are what the agent believes. I have shown that given that we understand ‘motivating reasons’ as what I term 'grounds', this is quite correct, as what we believe is what plays the role of a (...)
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  • Agency and Reasons in Epistemology.Luis R. G. Oliveira - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst
    Ever since John Locke, philosophers have discussed the possibility of a normative epistemology: are there epistemic obligations binding the cognitive economy of belief and disbelief? Locke's influential answer was evidentialist: we have an epistemic obligation to believe in accordance with our evidence. In this dissertation, I place the contemporary literature on agency and reasons at the service of some such normative epistemology. I discuss the semantics of obligations, the connection between obligations and reasons to believe, the implausibility of Lockean evidentialism, (...)
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  • On Moral Understanding.David Levy - 2004 - Dissertation, University of London
    I provide an explanation of moral understanding. I begin by describing decisions, es- pecially moral ones. I detail ways in which deviations from an ideal of decision-making occur. I link deviations to characteristic critical judgments, e.g. being cavalier, banal, coura- geous, etc. Moral judgments are among these and carry a particular personal gravity. The question I entertain in following chapters is: how do they carry this gravity? In answering the question, I try “external” accounts of moral understanding. I distin- guish (...)
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  • Sentimentalism (International Encyclopedia of Ethics).Antti Kauppinen - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell.
    Sentimentalism comes in many varieties: explanatory sentimentalism, judgment sentimentalism, metaphysical sentimentalism, and epistemic sentimentalism. This encyclopedia entry gives an overview of the positions and main arguments pro and con.
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  • Essays in Philosophical Moral Psychology.Antti Kauppinen - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Helsinki
    This 183-page introductory part of my dissertation is an overview of some key debates in philosophical moral psychology and its methodology.
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  • Kant, Skepticism, and Moral Sensibility.Owen Ware - 2010 - Dissertation, University of Toronto
    In his early writings, Kant says that the solution to the puzzle of how morality can serve as a motivating force in human life is nothing less than the “philosophers’ stone.” In this dissertation I show that for years Kant searched for the philosophers’ stone in the concept of “respect” (Achtung), which he understood as the complex effect practical reason has on feeling. -/- I sketch the history of that search in Chapters 1-2. In Chapter 3 I show that Kant’s (...)
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  • Humanity, Virtue, Justice: A Framework for a Capability Approach.Benjamin James Bessey - unknown
    This Thesis reconsiders the prospects for an approach to global justice centring on the proposal that every human being should possess a certain bundle of goods, which would include certain members of a distinctive category: the category of capabilities. My overall aim is to present a clarified and well-developed framework, within which such claims can be made. To do this, I visit a number of regions of normative and metanormative theorising. I begin by introducing the motivations for the capability approach, (...)
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  • Reasons as Premises of Good Reasoning.Jonathan Way - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (2).
    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 (...)
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  • The Obscurity of Internal Reasons.Stephen Finlay - 2009 - Philosophers' Imprint 9:1-22.
    Since its publication in 1979, Bernard Williams' "Internal and External Reasons" has been one of the most influential and widely discussed papers in ethics. I suggest here that the paper's argument has nevertheless been universally misunderstood. On the standard interpretation, his argument—which he subsequently elaborated and defended in further discussions—is perplexingly weak. In the first section I sketch this Standard (or, more provocatively, "Supposed") argument, and detail just how terrible it is. The badness of the argument itself may not be (...)
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  • Modals vs. Morals. Blackburn on Conceptual Supervenience. Dohrn - 2012 - GAP 8 Proceedings.
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  • Emotion and Value : A Phenomenological Approach.Vanello Daniel - 2016 - Dissertation, University of Warwick. Department of Philosophy
    In this thesis I argue that the affective component of emotional experience plays an essential explanatory role in the acquisition of evaluative knowledge. I call this the notion of affect as a disclosure of value. The thesis is divided into two parts. In the first part I critically assess three contemporary accounts which, I argue, are motivated either implicitly or explicitly by the notion of affect as a disclosure of value. I argue that all three accounts fail due to the (...)
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  • Reasons and Practical Possibility.Simon Robertson - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (9-10):1104-1135.
    According to a common thesis about normative reasons for action, you have a reason to perform a given action only if you can act for that reason. This thesis has long had broad appeal and i...
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  • Reasons for Emotion and Moral Motivation.Reid Blackman - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6):805-827.
    Internalism about normative reasons is the view that an agent’s normative reasons depend on her motivational constitution. On the assumption that there are reasons for emotion I argue that externalism about reasons for emotion entails that all rational agents have reasons to be morally motivated and internalism about reasons for emotion is implausible. If the arguments are sound we can conclude that all rational agents have reasons to be morally motivated. Resisting this conclusion requires either justifying internalism about reasons for (...)
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  • Three Comments on Joseph Raz's Conception of Normativity.George Pavlakos, Niko Kolodny, Ulrike Heuer & Douglas Lavin - 2011 - Jurisprudence 2 (2):329-378.
    This section is a discussion of Joseph Raz's Conception of Normativity introduced by Georgios Pavlakos.
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  • Deflationary Normative Pluralism.Evan Tiffany - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (Supplement):231-262.
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  • The Wisdom of Hindsight and the Limits of Humean Constructivism.Gary Jaeger - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (1):45-57.
    Ordinary normative discourse includes talk about the reasons for action we had in the past but only came to discover in hindsight. In some cases, we come to discover these reasons not because new information has come to light, but because our values have changed. Contemporary metaethical views, namely Street's Humean constructivism and Blackburn's and Gibbard's quasi-realism, have some difficulty accounting for these reasons and the claims we make about them. This difficulty hinges on the diachronic complexity of these reasons (...)
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  • Prospects for Non-Cognitivism.Catherine Wilson - 2001 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 44 (3):291 – 314.
    This essay offers a defence of the non-cognitivist approach to the interpretation of moral judgments as disguised imperatives corresponding to social rules. It addresses the body of criticism that faced R. M. Hare, and that currently faces moral anti-realists, on two levels, by providing a full semantic analysis of evaluative judgments and by arguing that anti-realism is compatible with moral aspiration despite the non-existence of obligations as the externalist imagines them. A moral judgment consists of separate descriptive and prescriptive components (...)
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  • The Norm of Belief.Richard N. Manning - 2016 - Analysis 76 (1):81-87.
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  • The Real Problem with Internalism About Reasons.Talbot Brewer - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):443 - 473.
    It is common, in current literature on the topic at hand, to distinguish two kinds of reasons for action: justificatory reasons, which answer questions about what we ought to do, and explanatory reasons, which explain what we actually do. Internalism is a thesis about justificatory reasons—that is, the kind of reasons we are in search of when we deliberate about what to do or advise others about what they ought to do. Of course, since internalism traces justificatory reasons to the (...)
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  • The Real Problem With Internalism About Reasons.Talbot Brewer - 2002 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):443-473.
    It is common, in current literature on the topic at hand, to distinguish two kinds of reasons for action: justificatory reasons, which answer questions about what we ought to do, and explanatory reasons, which explain what we actually do. Internalism is a thesis about justificatory reasons—that is, the kind of reasons we are in search of when we deliberate about what to do or advise others about what they ought to do. Of course, since internalism traces justificatory reasons to the (...)
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  • Internalism About Reasons: Sad but True?Kate Manne - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (1):89-117.
    Internalists about reasons following Bernard Williams claim that an agent’s normative reasons for action are constrained in some interesting way by her desires or motivations. In this paper, I offer a new argument for such a position—although one that resonates, I believe, with certain key elements of Williams’ original view. I initially draw on P.F. Strawson’s famous distinction between the interpersonal and the objective stances that we can take to other people, from the second-person point of view. I suggest that (...)
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  • Advisors and Deliberation.Steven Arkonovich - 2011 - The Journal of Ethics 15 (4):405-424.
    The paper has two goals. First, it defends one type of subjectivist account of reasons for actions—deliberative accounts—against the criticism that they commit the conditional fallacy. Second, it attempts to show that another type of subjectivist account of practical reasons that has been gaining popularity—ideal advisor accounts—are liable to commit a closely related error. Further, I argue that ideal advisor accounts can avoid the error only by accepting the fundamental theoretical motivation behind deliberative accounts. I conclude that ideal advisor accounts (...)
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  • Empathy, Shared Intentionality, and Motivation by Moral Reasons.Marion Hourdequin - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (3):403 - 419.
    Internalists about reasons generally insist that if a putative reason, R, is to count as a genuine normative reason for a particular agent to do something, then R must make a rational connection to some desire or interest of the agent in question. If internalism is true, but moral reasons purport to apply to agents independently of the particular desires, interests, and commitments they have, then we may be forced to conclude that moral reasons are incoherent. Richard Joyce (2001) develops (...)
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  • Internal Reasons and Contractualist Impartiality.Alan Thomas - 2002 - Utilitas 14 (2):135.
    This paper interprets Bernard Williams's claim that all practical reasons must meet the internal reasons constraint. It is argued that this constraint is independent of any substantive Humean claims about reasons and its rationale is a content scepticism about the capacity of pure reason to supply reasons for action. The final sections attempt a positive reconciliation of the internal reasons account with the motivation for external reasons, namely, securing practical objecitivy in the form of a commitment to impartiality. Impartiality is (...)
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  • Internismo de razões E a concepção procedimental de deliberação correta.Tiaraju Andreazza - 2015 - Philósophos - Revista de Filosofia 20 (2):197-225.
    The aim of this article is to discuss Bernard Williams’s theory of reasons for action. Following the introduction and analysis of its main concepts and the identification of the argument that it is offered in its favor and against alternative positions, I analyze the objection that the soundness of this argument depends on the acceptance of a procedural conception of correct deliberation that Williams would have assumed, without offering any argument, as true. I argue that this objection is false because (...)
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