Synthese

, Volume 190, Issue 17, pp 3865–3888 | Cite as

Acting for reasons, apt action, and knowledge

Article

Abstract

I argue for the view that there are important similarities between knowledge and acting for a normative reason. I interpret acting for a normative reason in terms of Sosa’s notion of an apt performance. Actions that are done for a normative reason are normatively apt actions. They are in accordance with a normative reason because of a competence to act in accordance with normative reasons. I argue that, if Sosa’s account of knowledge as apt belief is correct, this means that acting for a normative reason is in many respects similar to knowledge. In order to strengthen Sosa’s account of knowledge, I propose to supplement it with an appeal to sub-competences. This clarifies how this account can deal with certain Gettier cases, and it helps to understand how exactly acting for a normative reason is similar to apt belief.

Keywords

Acting for reasons Acting for a normative reason Gettier problem Knowledge Apt belief Normative reasons Explanation Competence  Virtue epistemology  Apt action 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I especially want to thank Christoph Fehige, Heinz-Dieter Heckmann, Tim Henning, Frank Hofmann, Rob McGee, Oliver Petersen, Christian Piller, Eva Schmidt, Thomas Schmidt, Peter Schulte, David Schweikard, Michael Smith, Ernest Sosa, Ulla Wessels, and two anonymous referees for comments and inspiration. I also want to thank the audiences of talks I gave at the Universität des Saarlandes in 2011, at the XXI. German Congress of Philosophy in Munich in 2011, and at a meeting at the island Reichenau, Germany, in the same year for very illuminating discussions of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophisches InstitutUniversität des SaarlandesSaarbrückenGermany

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