The Reasoning View and Defeasible Practical Reasoning

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):614-636 (2017)
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Abstract

According to the Reasoning View about normative reasons, facts about normative reasons for action can be understood in terms of facts about the norms of practical reasoning. I argue that this view is subject to an overlooked class of counterexamples, familiar from debates about Subjectivist theories of normative reasons. Strikingly, the standard strategy Subjectivists have used to respond to this problem cannot be adapted to the Reasoning View. I think there is a solution to this problem, however. I argue that the norms of practical reasoning, like the norms of theoretical reasoning, are characteristically defeasible, in a sense I make precise. Recognizing this property of those norms makes space for a solution to the problem. The resulting view is in a way analogous to the familiar defeasibility theory of knowledge, but it avoids a standard objection to that theory.

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Samuel Asarnow
Macalester College

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