I'm really enjoying Scanlon's new book "Being Realistic About Reasons" (all citations below to this book), but I'm stumbling on the part about pure normative truths and the explanation of supervenience. Any help would be much appreciated.
According to a common view, the difference between the “right” kind of reasons that support the distinctive rationality of belief, intention, or other attitudes, and the “wrong” kind of reasons that do not, is that the former are “object-given” reasons while the latter are “state-given” reasons. As I shall argue here, this view is false: it is open to some simple counterexamples.
In this post, I shall explain why the reason that explains why it is irrational to believe Moore-paradoxical propositions (like the proposition that you might express by uttering a first-person present-tensed sentence of the form ‘p and I don’t believe that p’) is a state-given reason, even though it is a reason of “the right kind”. (In a later post, I shall explain why our reasons not to have intentions that would frustrate their own realization are similarly “state-given”.)
Warren Quinn’s puzzle of the self-torturer is supposed to show that cyclic preferences can be rational, and that, in cases where they are, rationality can require resoluteness so that the agent does not end up with an alternative that is worse than the one with which s/he started.
As Quinn makes explicit, his concern is with instrumental rationality. It is thus natural to interpret Quinn’s use of “worse” as “worse, relative to the agent’s preferences.” But how is “X is worse than Y, relative to the agent’s preferences” to be understood when X and Y are part of a preference cycle?
Consider Newcomb’s Problem: “A psychology professor at your school has a reputation for being brilliant as well as possessed of an enormous fortune she has dedicated to her research. One day you get a request to report to her office at a certain hour. On a table are two boxes. One of them, labeled A, is transparent; in it you can see an enormous pile of $100 bills. The other, labeled B, is opaque. She tells you that there is $10,000 in transparent box A and that in box B there is either $1,000,000 or nothing. She tells you that she is going to give you a choice between:"
I am pleased to introduce this month's featured philosopher: me. Please join me in welcoming me.
[Added Monday morning 18 November by Shoemaker: Because of some random spamming difficulties, all comments will now be moderated. Please be patient, as comments must now be read and approved prior to being published.]
I'm pleased to announce a call for abstracts for the next St. Louis Conference on Reasons and Rationality, sponsored by UMSL and Washington University. Many PEA Soupers have participated the past four years.
A recently influential idea in the
philosophy of normativity is reasons primitivism. Reasons primitivists
hold that we can give no account of what it is for some consideration to be a
(normative) reason. At most we can say that reasons are considerations that count
in favour (or against) some response, or that when there is reason to do
something, there is something to be said
for doing that thing. In this post (which is intended in the spirit of Dave and
Dave’s request for half-baked ideas…) I want to raise a worry about this view.