Normative reasons as good bases

Philosophical Studies 173 (9):2291-2310 (2016)
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In this paper, I defend a new theory of normative reasons called reasons as good bases, according to which a normative reason to φ is something that is a good basis for φing. The idea is that the grounds on which we do things—bases—can be better or worse as things of their kind, and a normative reason—a good reason—is something that is just a good instance of such a ground. After introducing RGB, I clarify what it is to be a good basis, and argue that RGB has various attractive features: it has intuitive implications, makes good sense of the weights of reasons, and attractively explains the relationship between normative reasons and motivating reasons. I then briefly defend the view from objections and compare it to rivals. Finally, I sketch two possible implications of RGB: some kind of constitutivism, according to which the norms that govern us are explained by the nature of agency, and second, the claim that agents who do things for reasons generally do them for good reasons.

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Alex Gregory
University of Southampton


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