LanCog Seminar

2016-17: Sessão 8

Contra Tantum Reasons
Luís Duarte d’Almeida
University of Edinburgh

17 February 2017, 16:00
Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: In this paper, co-authored with Euan MacDonald, we offer an account of reasons as facts that support ought-propositions; and we set this account against the standard account of reasons as facts that count either in favour or against something. After offering a characterisation of the support relationship, we show how the familiar notion of a pro tanto reason (a notion that can also be defined in the standard counting for/against terms) can be defined in support terms. Alongside pro tanto reasons, however, there are also, we suggest, what we propose to call contra tantum reasons: facts that support negative ought-propositions—propositions e.g. of the form “it is not the case that P ought/ought not to F”—without also supporting any positive ought-proposition. The notion of a contra tantum reason, unlike that of a pro tanto reason, cannot, we argue, be defined in the standard counting for/against terms. We conclude by suggesting that the inability of the standard account to accommodate contra tantum reasons may help explain why some familiar issues in moral philosophy (e.g. issues involving supererogation) have appeared to be more puzzling than they are.