Practical Reasons: The problem of gridlock

In Barry Dainton & Howard Robinson (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Philosophy. Continuum Publishing Corporation. pp. 474-499 (2014)
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Abstract
The paper has two aims. The first is to propose a general framework for organizing some central questions about normative practical reasons in a way that separates importantly distinct issues that are often run together. Setting out this framework provides a snapshot of the leading types of view about practical reasons as well as a deeper understanding of what are widely regarded to be some of their most serious difficulties. The second is to use the proposed framework to uncover and diagnose what I believe is a structural problem that plagues the debate about practical reasons. A common move in the debate involves a proponent of one type of view offering what she and others proposing that type consider to be a devastating criticism of an opposing type of view, only to find that her criticism is shrugged off by her opponents as easy to answer, misguided, or having little significance for their view. This isn’t due to conceptual blindness or mere slavish devotion to a theory but something fundamental about the argumentative structure of a debate over genuinely shared issues. Hence, the debate about practical reasons suffers from argumentative gridlock. The proposed framework helps us to see why this is so, and what we might do to move beyond it.
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