Practical conflicts as a problem for epistemic reductionism about practical reasons

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3):677-686 (2021)
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According to epistemic reductionism about practical reasons, facts about practical reasons can be reduced to facts about evidence for ought-judgements. We argue that this view misconstrues practical conflicts. At least some conflicts between practical reasons put us in a position to know that an action ϕ is optional, i.e. that we neither ought to perform nor ought to refrain from performing the action. By understanding conflicts of practical reasons as conflicts of evidence about what one ought to do, epistemic reductionism fails to account for this. In conflict cases in which ϕ-ing is optional, epistemic reductionism suggests that we have equally strong evidence for and against assuming that we ought to ϕ, and thus cannot be in a position to know that it is not the case that we ought to ϕ. This is a serious flaw.

Author Profiles

Benjamin Kiesewetter
Bielefeld University
Jan Gertken
Humboldt University, Berlin


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