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Reducing Reasons

by Matthew Silverstein

Reasons are considerations that figure in sound reasoning. This is considered by many philosophers to be little more than a platitude. I argue that it actually has surprising and far-reaching metanormative implications. The view that reasons are linked to sound reasoning seems platitudinous only because we tend to assume that soundness is a normative property, in which case the view merely relates one normative phenomenon (reasons) to another (soundness). I argue that soundness is also a descriptive phenomenon, one we can pick out with purely descriptive terms, and that the connection between normative reasons and sound reasoning therefore provides the basis for a reductive account of reasons. Like all proposed reductions, this one must confront some version of G. E. Moore’s open question argument. I argue that a reductive view rooted in the idea that reasons figure in sound reasoning is well-equipped to meet the open question challenge head on.

ISSN 1559-3061
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