Contrastive reasons

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book develops and defends contrastivism about reasons. This is the view that normative reasons are fundamentally reasons for or against actions or attitudes only relative to sets of alternatives. Simply put, reasons are always reasons to do one thing rather than another, instead of simply being reasons to do something, full stop. Work on reasons has become central to several areas of philosophy, but besides a couple of exceptions, this view has not been discussed. This book makes the case that this is a mistake. The book develops three kinds of arguments for contrastivism. First, contrastivism gives us the best account of our ordinary discourse about reasons. Second, contrastivism best makes sense of widespread ideas about what reasons are, including the idea that they favor the things they are reasons for and the idea that they involve the promotion of certain kinds of objectives. Third, contrastivism has attractive applications in different areas of normative philosophy in which reasons are important. These include debates in normative ethics about whether better than might be intransitive and debates in both epistemology and practical reasoning about the rationality of withholding or suspending belief and intention.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages149
ISBN (Electronic)9780191835711
ISBN (Print)9780198785934
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017


  • Reasons
  • Contrastivism
  • Rationality
  • Practical reasoning
  • Promotion
  • Favoring


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