Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Recent analytic philosophy often explains responsibility to other persons in terms of normative reasons. Emmanuel Levinas thinks this is backward. We are not responsible because we have reasons to be. It is only because we are responsible to one another that we are able to have reasons. Reasons-first explanations thus marginalize the very relationship our reasonings exact or express, offering a picture of reasoning, reasons, and reason itself that is abstract, impersonal, de-faced. This essay motivates the “re-facing” of reasons and reconstructs Levinas’s explanatory reorientation of reasons and responsibility. The result is an “ethical metaphysics” of reasons that responds well to familiar analytic problems. The conclusion is that reasons do not, like objects, exist and then happen to be something for which we are responsible. Rather, reasons exist like assurances or promises—as exchangeable expressions of ongoing relations of responsibility.

Keywords: Levinas, analytic philosophy, metaphysics, reason, reasoning

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.