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Weighing Reasons$
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Errol Lord and Barry Maguire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.001.0001

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Reasons, Reason, and Context

Reasons, Reason, and Context

(p.74) 4 Reasons, Reason, and Context
Weighing Reasons

Daniel Fogal

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores some important yet neglected subtleties of ordinary reasons-talk. The first concerns the use of “reason” (in its normative sense) as a count noun and as a mass noun, and the second concerns the context-sensitivity of reasons-claims. The more carefully one looks at the language of reasons, it is argued, the clearer its limitations and liabilities become. The cumulative upshot is that although talk of reasons is intelligible and useful for the purposes of communication, one should be wary of placing much weight on it when engaging in substantive normative inquiry. By way of illustration, some potential pitfalls of taking talk of reasons too seriously are considered, including how careful attention to the language of reasons undermines the main arguments for moral particularism, Mark Schroeder’s recent defense of Humeanism about practical reasons, and the “reasons-first” program in metanormativity.

Keywords:   reasons, reason, context, mass/count, particularism, Hypotheticalism, Humeanism

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