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Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 9$
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Russ Shafer-Landau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198709299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198709299.001.0001

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Wrong Kinds of Reason and the Opacity of Normative Force

Wrong Kinds of Reason and the Opacity of Normative Force

(p.215) 9 Wrong Kinds of Reason and the Opacity of Normative Force
Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 9

Justin D’Arms

Daniel Jacobson

Oxford University Press

The literature on the wrong kind of reason (WKR) problem largely assumes that such reasons pose only a theoretical problem for certain theories of value rather than a practical problem. Since the normative force of the canonical examples is obvious, the only difficulty is to identify what reasons of the right and wrong kind have in common without circularity. This chapter argues that in addition to the obvious WKRs on which the literature focuses, there are also more interesting WKRs that do not overtly refer to the advantages of having some evaluative attitude. Instead they refer to features of the object that bear on the propriety of having certain attitudes toward it. What is interesting about these cases is that their normative force is opaque. It can be clear that some consideration bears on whether or not to feel shame, pity, or amusement, for example, but unclear just how it does so—specifically, whether the consideration helps make the object of the attitude shameful, pitiable, or funny. The problems caused by WKRs are ubiquitous, and they outstrip the wrong kind of reason problem as it has ordinarily been conceived, since extant solutions to the technical problem offer no help resolving the opacity of normative force.

Keywords:   wrong kind of reason problem, reasons, fitting attitude theory, Gaut, Nussbaum, Roberts

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