SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Reasons and Reasoning
(Epistemology, English)

Many believe that there is some tight connection between the normative reasons we have to believe or do things, and the mental activity of reasoning through which we form beliefs and intentions. I argue that this is a mistake. I examine and ultimately reject the two prominent (mutually exclusive) views of the relation between reasons and reasoning. (I) Some understand reasons in terms of correct reasoning: a fact p is a normative reason for you to if and only if you can reason correctly from believing p to -ing (e.g. Williams, Hieronymi, Raz, Way, Setyia, Gibbons and Torri accept some version of this view). (II) Others understand correct reasoning in terms of reasons: you reason correctly if and only if, and because, you appropriately respond to normative reasons (e.g. Piller, Scanlon, Dancy, Kiesewetter, Lord and Alvarez). I argue that we should not only not accept both views on pain of circularity, but neither one.
Regarding (I), I present two counterexamples to the view and argue that it cannot evade the verdict it aims to deny: what ultimately makes a fact p a reason for agent N to is a relation between the fact p and the normative standing of N's -ing (as opposed to a correct pattern of reasoning). I argue that we should reject the widespread dogma that the reasons to must be appropriate premises of reasoning towards -ing.
Regarding (II), I argue that normative reasons do not set the standard of correctness of reasoning. It is not the case that reasoning is correct if and only if, and because, it follows the paths of reasons. By means of counterexamples, I argue against four versions of this view, namely that a pattern of reasoning is correct if and only if a) the contents of the premise-attitudes are reasons for the contents of the conclusion-attitude, b) the contents of the premise-attitude are reasons for the conclusion-attitude, c) the premise-attitudes are reasons for the conclusion-attitude, or d) the premise-attitudes are reasons for the content of the conclusion- attitude.
In conclusion, I deny the alleged close link between normative reasons (for belief or action) and correct (theoretical or practical) reasoning; we cannot understand one in terms of the other.

Chair: Markus Hierl
Time: 16:15-16:45, 13 September 2017 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.005

Franziska Poprawe 
(University of Oxford, Vereinigtes Königreich)

Franziska is a DPhil (PhD) student at the University of Oxford. Her research centers on the nature and the norms of reasoning, normative reasons and rationality. In general, she is interested in normativity and works at the intersection of Ethics and Epistemology. Prior to coming to Oxford, she received her MA in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Bayreuth, and her BA from the University of Mannheim.

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