Justifying Practical Reasons

Georg Spielthenner


Abstract: This paper is about the nature of practical reasons. More specifically, my primary goal is to explore when an agent has a justifying reason for action¾that is, a reason that can be used for justifying an action that has been done or that the agent is planning to do. This concept of reason is central to ethics and to practical philosophy in general. I defend an account of reason according to which a piece of practical reasoning gives an agent a reason for action if he has a reason for its premises and a warrant for holding that these premises logically support the conclusion. That is roughly to say that justifying reasons are closed under logical entailment. To achieve this aim, I shall (in Section 1) discuss the components of such reasons. Section 2 presents a principle of closure for justifying reasons and clarifies two important clauses of this principle. In the last section, I show how my account can sidestep the regress problem in practical reasoning.


Keywords: Practical reasons; justifying reasons; practical reasoning; ethical reasoning; closure of practical reasons; regress problem



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