The discretionary normativity of requests

Philosophers' Imprint 18:1-16 (2018)
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Being able to ask others to do things, and thereby giving them reasons to do those things, is a prominent feature of our interpersonal lives. In this paper, I discuss the distinctive normative status of requests – what makes them different from commands and demands. I argue for a theory of this normative phenomenon which explains the sense in which the reasons presented in requests are a matter of discretion. This discretionary quality, I argue, is something that other theories cannot accommodate, though it is a significant aspect of the relations that people stand in to one another, and the kinds of practical reasons that flow from those relations.

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James H. P. Lewis
University of Birmingham


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