Reasoning First

In Ruth Chang & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Practical Reasoning. New York, NY, USA: (forthcoming)
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Many think of reasons as facts, propositions, or considerations that stand in some relation (or relations) to attitudes, actions, states of affairs. The relation may be an explanatory one or a “normative” one—though some are uncomfortable with irreducibly “normative” relations. I will suggest that we should, instead, see reasons as items in pieces of reasoning. They relate, in the first instance, not to psychological states or events or states of affairs, but to questions. That relation is neither explanatory nor “normative.” If we must give it a label, we could call it “rational”—but that will mean, I think, only that the consideration bears on the question. By thus putting reasoning first, we not only avoid a handful of difficulties that have plagued thinking about reasons, but we also bring back to center-stage the importance of rational agency.
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