Obligations, Reasons, And The Will By Ruth Chang Essay

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In “Commitments, Reasons, and the Will,” Ruth Chang argues that there are “special reasons” for actions produced within committed relationships which do not arise in other relationships, and that the commitment itself gives these reasons their normative force (75). In contrast, in “Autonomy and the Authority of Personal Commitments: From Internal Coherence to Social Normativity” Joel Anderson objects that views which emphasize volitions fail to adequately explain the normative failure of one who acts contrary to their commitments (94). First, this paper will explicate Chang 's argument for voluntarist reasons, and, second, it will examine Anderson 's objection and his “social normativity” proposal. I will argue that Chang fails to establish why volitional reasons are necessary to explain the normativity of commitments, and, furthermore, that Anderson 's account is more plausible.

Chang regards commitments as “exercises of our normative powers,” whereby we will reasons into existence for ourselves (75). She focuses on commitments made to friends, family, and romantic partners, and those made to oneself in terms of projects. These differ from other types of commitments, such as promises, since the obligation to keep a promise exists only because promises invite others to develop expectations (76). The commitments Chang discusses create internal obligations rather than moral obligations because, according to her, they need not cause expectations in others (although they often
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