Agency and Normative Self-Governance

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):517-528 (2017)
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We are agents: we can deliberate about what to do, and then act on the basis of that deliberation. We are also capable of normative self-governance: we can identify and respond to reasons as reasons. Many theorists believe that these two capacities are intimately connected. On the basis of this connection they conclude that practical reasoning must be carried out under the guise of a justification. This paper explores two strategies for avoiding that conclusion. The first, which just denies the connection between agency and normative self-governance, is rejected as too costly, since it leaves the normative significance of agency unexplained. The second, which suggests that we can respond to a consideration as a reason without representing it as a reason, seems more promising, but it requires a reductive account of reasons for action. The upshot is that metaethics and action theory are entwined in ways that few have recognized.
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Archival date: 2017-10-18
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