Competing reasons

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One of the most important facts about the normative domain is that some considerations are contributory, rather than decisive, when it comes to determining what we ought to, must, or may do. This chapter investigates different ways that contributory reasons bearing on our options can compete with one another to determine the overall normative status of those options. Two key themes are (i) that the theory of this competition must include a distinct role for reasons against, in addition to reasons for, and (ii) that the theory must allow for comparative verdicts about which options are more strongly supported than others, rather than simply which options are required or permitted. I reject a simple and familiar balancing account of the competition, as well as an account that understands the competition in terms of giving and answering criticisms of the options. I introduce a new account that incorporates a distinct role for reasons against.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReasons, justification, and defeat
EditorsJessica Brown, Mona Simion
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780191882111
ISBN (Print)9780198847205
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021


  • Reasons
  • Requirements
  • Ought
  • Permission
  • Reason against


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