What is it to have a reason? According to one common idea, the Factoring Account, you have a reason to do A when there is a reason for you to do A which you have—which is somehow in your possession or grasp. In this paper, I argue that this common idea is false. But though my arguments are based on the practical case, the implications of this are likely to be greatest in epistemology: for the pitfalls we fall into when trying to defend the Factoring Account reflect very well the major developments in empiricist epistemology during the 20th century. I conjecture that this is because epistemologists have been—wrongly—wedded to the Factoring Account about evidence, which I conjecture is a certain kind of reason to believe.
KeywordsReasons Subjective Objective Bernard Williams Epistemology Evidence Basing
Special thanks to Ned Block, Jim Pryor, Barry Lam, Gideon Rosen, Early Conee, Jeff Speaks, Mark Johnston, and the members of the Princeton University graduate student dissertation seminar, for helpful or stimulating comments or discussion.
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