Why One's Practical Reasons Are Not Just One's Own Private Affair
S. Bertea, “Why Practical Reasons Are Not Just One’s Own Private Affair”, Philosophical Inquiry, 41, 2017, 63-85
29 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2018
Date Written: December 1, 2017
In this paper I take a stance in the debate concerning the private or public quality of practical reasons by arguing that – far from amounting to statements of personal concerns – practical reasons are inherently public, or constitutively shared, standards. Accordingly, an agent’s reasons are not concerns that only the agent takes as grounded, whereas other individuals may legitimately fail to recognise them. Insofar as one has a reason for action, that action is supported by a statement that others cannot refrain from treating as a sound basis for action without misunderstanding the predicament at stake. The view I defend here is, therefore, that one’s practical reasons are essentially public considerations in a specific sense, namely, they ought to be recognised as valuable justifications for action not only by the agent but by anyone else, including those who may have different, or even conflicting, interests. Related, idiosyncratic preferences, private motives, personal interests and the like cannot be regarded as practical reasons, since, no consideration can be qualified as a practical reason unless it is intersubjectively acknowledgeable as a meaningful supporting ground of action and so it makes normative claims a generality of subjects, as opposed to just the agent, will have to regard as (at least presumptively and defeasibly) valid.
Keywords: practical reasons, practical reasoning, publicity of reasons
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