All Reasons are Fundamentally for Attitudes

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 21 (2) (2022)
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Abstract

As rational agents, we are governed by reasons. The fact that there’s beer at the pub might be a reason to go there and a reason to believe you’ll enjoy it. As this example illustrates, there are reasons for both action and for belief. There are also many other responses for which there seem to be reasons – for example, desire, regret, admiration, and blame. This diversity raises questions about how reasons for different responses relate to each other. Might certain such reasons be more fundamental than others? Should certain reasons and not others be treated as paradigmatic? At least implicitly, many philosophers treat reasons for action as the fundamental or paradigmatic case. In contrast, this paper articulates and defends an alternative approach, on which reasons for attitudes are fundamental, and reasons for action are both derivative and, in certain ways, idiosyncratic. After outlining this approach, we focus on defending its most contentious thesis, that reasons for action are fundamentally reasons for intention. We offer two arguments for this thesis, which turn on central roles of reasons: that reasons can be responded to, and that reasons can feature as premises of good reasoning.  We then examine objections to the thesis and argue that none succeed. We conclude by sketching some ways in which our approach is significant for theorising about reasons.

Author Profiles

Conor McHugh
University of Southampton
Jonathan Way
University of Southampton

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