Why Should We Maintain The Agents Can Be Justified?

2127 Words Nov 7th, 2016 9 Pages

In this essay I argue if we maintain that agents can be justified in action, reasons must be mental states, rather than facts as suggested by Alvarez and Hornsby . Reasons of fact would leave us with agents that are no more or less justified than any other agent in their decision making. I claim justification would be a pointless and arbitrary concept if reasons were not mental states.
There are two important distinctions to make surrounding reason. The first is between natural causation and reason. Natural causation gets muddled up with reason when we conventionally use the terms interchangeably. For example, we colloquially say, “the reason it rained today was that a storm passed over London.” This is fundamentally flawed because this is a natural cause not a reason for it raining. Without getting too much into detail, clearly, there is a strong linguistic distinction between the two, but to succinctly clarify a few differences, we can refer to points made by Lacewing:
1. Causes precede their effects in time. Reasons do not.
2. Reasons can cite purposes… but a causal explanation cannot cite a purpose.
3. Reasons can be ‘good’ or ‘bad’… a cause cannot in the same way.
4. When we identify a cause, then the effect must exist. When we identify a reason, the action it is a reason for does not need occur.
The second distinction to make is between normative and motivating reasons. I only distinguish them in…

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