Semantics for reasons

Bryan R. Weaver, Kevin Scharp

Research output: Book/ReportBook


The focus of the book is the semantics of reasons locutions, for example reasons for someone to do something or believe something or be a certain way. Given the leading role that talk of reasons plays in many different kinds of philosophy, the book addresses issues in the theory of reasons, metaethics, epistemology, the philosophies of language and perception, and linguistics. The primary aim of the book is to present and defend a contextualist semantics of reasons locutions. the book’s contextualism for reasons locutions is based on the idea that conversations have a particular question under discussion (QUD). The QUD in a conversation determines which meaning the word ‘reason’ has in that context. The book shows why reasons contextualism is preferable to four competing views on the topic: Simon Blackburn’s expressivism, Stephen Finlay’s conceptual analysis, Tim Henning’s alternative contextualism, and Niko Kolodny’s relativism. In addition, the work pursues secondary aims of consolidating insights about the nature of reasons from different philosophical subfields and establishing results about reasons in several debates ranging across philosophy. In particular, the book draws the implications of reasons contextualism for the ontology of reasons, indexical facts, whether there are reasons to be rational, the nature of moral reasons, and the idea that reasons have a special place in the realm of normative phenomena in general.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages176
ISBN (Electronic)9780191871184
ISBN (Print)9780198832621
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2019


  • Reasons
  • Natural language semantics
  • Contextualism
  • Question under discussion
  • Ambiguity
  • Prevailance
  • Rationality
  • Reasons first
  • Moral reasons
  • Normativity


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