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Normativity and reason-dependence: a comment on the nature of reasons

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  • Psychology


In his recent From Normativity to Responsibility Joseph Raz argues for three features of practical reasons: that they are facts; that they are facts that can motivate agents qua being reasons; and that they motivate agents in virtue of agents' capacity to reflect on them as reasons (which he labels 'Reason'). The paper identifies a tension between two conceptions of normativity that seem to co-exist in Raz's account: on the first of them, reasons remain psychologically efficacious albeit too subjective; the other, takes reasons to be objective normative facts which exist independently of our practical reasoning (or Reason). I caution against a conflation between mind-dependence (psychologism) and Reasondependence and suggest that practical reasons can remain simultaneously objective and motivating if we understand them in a Reason-dependent fashion. In the course of the paper a number of related questions on the nature of reasons are discussed and clarified.

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