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date: 19 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Here I address the issue of whether the concept of a reason is a basic normative notion. I do this by considering whether the attempts to analyze this notion in terms of “ought” succeed, as I think these are the most promising accounts. I consider the attempts of Broome, and of Kearns and Star, to attempt to analyze reasons in terms of oughts, and argue that these attempts fail. I defend the view that goodness can be defined in terms of reasons—the buck-passing account of goodness—and defend this view from the most serious objections, the “wrong kind of reasons” objection and the “isolated good” objection. I finish by expressing some doubts about whether “ought” can be defined in terms of reasons. I conclude, therefore, that the notion of a reason is a basic notion, but not the basic normative notion.

Keywords: reasons, explanation, evidence, value, buck-passing, Scanlon, Broome, Kearns and Star

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