Explaining Normative Reasons

Noûs 57 (1):51-80 (2023)
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In this paper, we present and defend a natural yet novel analysis of normative reasons. According to what we call support-explanationism, for a fact to be a normative reason to φ is for it to explain why there's normative support for φ-ing. We critically consider the two main rival forms of explanationism—ought-explanationism, on which reasons explain facts about ought, and good-explanationism, on which reasons explain facts about goodness—as well as the popular Reasons-First view, which takes the notion of a normative reason to be normatively fundamental. Support-explanationism, we argue, enjoys many of the virtues of these views while avoiding their drawbacks. We conclude by exploring several further important implications: among other things, we argue that the influential metaphor of ‘weighing’ reasons is inapt, and propose a better one; that, contrary to what Berker (2019) suggests, there's no reason for non-naturalists about normativity to accept the Reasons-First view; and that, contrary to what Wodak (2020b) suggests, explanationist views can successfully accommodate what he calls ‘redundant reasons’.

Author Profiles

Daniel Fogal
New York University
Olle Risberg
Uppsala University


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