Philosophy Compass 11 (7):377-389 (2016)
AbstractThe paper is an opinionated tour of the literature on the reasons for which we hold beliefs and other doxastic attitudes, which I call ‘operative epistemic reasons’. After drawing some distinctions in §1, I begin in §2 by discussing the ontology of operative epistemic reasons, assessing arguments for and against the view that they are mental states. I recommend a pluralist non-mentalist view that takes seriously the variety of operative epistemic reasons ascriptions and allows these reasons to be both propositions and truth-making facts. In §3, I turn to consider what it takes for a consideration to be an operative epistemic reason, examining three conditions – the representational, treating, and explanatory conditions – that have been proposed. I offer a novel view about the explanatory condition. In §4, I discuss the special case of inferential operative reasons and examine attempts to understand them in terms of rule-following, sketching a competence-based spinoff of dispositionalism. Finally, in §5, I consider whether there are non-inferential operative reasons, observing that one needn't countenance them to be a foundationalist but then developing a view about what they are and how they do and don't differ from inferential reasons.
Archival historyArchival date: 2015-11-21
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