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A range of reasons

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Daniel Whiting’s excellent new book, The Range of Reasons (2022), makes a number of noteworthy contributions to the philosophical literature on reasons and normativity. A good deal has been written on normative reasons, and it is no easy thing to make novel and promising arguments. Yet, this is what Whiting manages to do. We are sympathetic to some of his ideas and critical of others. It makes sense for us to focus on the first half of his book, where Whiting presents two accounts of normative reasons (the first superseded by, although possibly also compatible with, the second). We welcome this opportunity to clarify our own current views on the nature of normative reasons by contrasting them with Whiting’s views.

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  1. Page numbers that appear without a publication year below should all be read as references to this book.

  2. See, especially, Kearns and Star (2008 and 2009).

  3. See also Star (2018), 7–8.

  4. Here we are in fact paraphrasing what Whiting himself said when responding to us in a recent symposium on his book.

  5. Whiting also makes a point of separately providing explanations of justifying and demanding (or requiring) reasons. In our early work on reasons, we admittedly did not discuss this distinction. However, Joshua Gert (2016, 166) points out that there is an alternative way for us to capture it: we can construe justifying reasons as evidence that it is not the case that one ought not A (i.e., that it is permissible to A). See also Kearns (2016). This small move away from RAE as a precise statement is clearly in the spirit of our new expansive evidential account of reasons.


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Correspondence to Daniel Star.

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Kearns, S., Star, D. A range of reasons. AJPH 3, 7 (2024).

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