Reasons, rationality, reasoning: how much pulling-apart?

Problema 12:59-93 (2018)
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At the heart of John Broome’s research program in the philosophy of normativity is a distinction between reasons, on one hand, and requirements of rationality, on the other. I am a friend of Broome’s view that this distinction is deep and important, and that neither notion can be analyzed in terms of the other. However, I also think there are major challenges that this view is yet to meet. In the first part of the paper, I’ll raise four such challenges, and programmatically indicate how I think such challenges might be headed off. In the second part of the paper, I’ll discuss a third normative notion that Broome is interested in: that of (rules of) correct reasoning. On Broome’s view, correct reasoning is closely tied to requirements of rationality. More particularly, every rule of correct reasoning corresponds to a “basing permission”, which states that it’s rationally permissible to base one attitude on one or more other attitudes. I’ll argue that this proposal can’t be made to work. If I’m right, this suggests that the same kind of pulling-apart that Broome has effected so persuasively with respect to reasons and requirements of rationality needs to be effected again to separate rules of correct reasoning from both of those other categories.

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Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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