Committee ChairSchmidtz, David
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe most important questions we ask are normative questions. And the most fundamental normative questions are couched in terms of reasons: What do I have reason to do? and What do I have reason to believe? Although not always explicitly about reasons, I take it that much of normative philosophy at least implicitly offers first order normative answers to such questions. But stepping back, we can ask what these questions and answers are about - what are reasons anyway? This dissertation addresses those meta-normative questions, questions about the conceptual structure, semantics, ontology and epistemology of reasons. In the inquiry to come, chapters 1 and 2 consider the conceptual structure and core semantics of reasons. I argue that all reasons-internal reasons grounded in motivational states, external reasons connected to morality, epistemic reasons for belief, whatever--share the same conceptual structure and core semantics, so they all will stand or fall together when it comes to questions of reason truths and facts. In chapters 3-5 I argue that reason discourse has realist purport because reason judgments feature cognitive and belief-like attitudes about the way the world is, normatively speaking. To vindicate normativity's realist purport would require an ontology of favoring relations flowing from considerations in the world to actions and attitudes of various agents. So in chapters 6 and 7 I consider such an ontology. Unfortunately, favoring relations do not fit into the emerging naturalized view of the world. To make matters worse, based on the kinds of reasons we accept, there are no good reasons for admitting non-natural favoring relations in to the ontology. Reasons cannot bear their own survey. As a result, this dissertation culminates in a revisionary semantics, discussed in chapter 8, whereby I suggest we all adopt a fictive stance toward propositions about any kind of reason. In the end, we can preserve reason discourse and its characteristic roles in our lives so long as we are disposed to avow irrealism about reasons in critical contexts.