Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 2, pp 359–374 | Cite as

Normativity and self-relations

Article

Abstract

The paper criticizes two prominent accounts which purport to explain normativity by appealing to some relation that one bears to oneself. Michael Bratman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would fail to govern oneself. And David Velleman argues that one has reason to be formally coherent because otherwise one would be less intelligible to oneself. Both Bratman and Velleman argue in quite different ways that rational coherence is normative because it is necessary for the instantiation or promotion of the independently normative self-relation they invoke. But the paper presents a similar scenario which arguably exposes a failure of extensional adequacy common to both accounts: one can instantiate the self-relation in question without being formally coherent. A brief diagnosis is offered for why two such different accounts turn out to be vulnerable to a similar counterexample, suggesting that other accounts which appeal to self-relations in a broadly similar way might also suffer from the problem identified here.

Keywords

Normativity Rationality Instrumental rationality Self-governance Self-intelligibility 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jesus CollegeUniveristy of OxfordOxfordUK

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