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Reasons as Defaults
US$ 64.99 (+ tax)
Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows that the resulting theory helps to explain how the interplay among reasons can determine what we ought to do by developing two different deontic logics, capturing two different intuitions about moral conflicts.In the central part of the book, Horty elaborates the basic theory to account for reasoning about the strength of our own reasons, and also about the related concepts of undercutting defeaters and exclusionary reasons. The theory is illustrated with an application to particularist arguments concerning the role of principles in moral theory.The book concludes by introducing a pair of issues new to the philosophical literature: the problem of determining the epistemic status of conclusions supported by separate but conflicting reasons, and the problem of drawing conclusions from sets of reasons that can vary arbitrarily in strength, or importance."This is a beautiful, elegant book. It should be required reading for anyone serious about thinking rigorously about ethics. Over the last half century or more, moral philosophy has become increasingly concerned with reasons for action - considerations which favor or disfavor some course of action, but not conclusively. According to a now-orthodox conception, what we ought to do is a product of the interaction of our reasons for different options. But very little serious work has been done on how reasons come together to determine what we ought to do, and much of that has been nae. In this fascinating and deep book, Horty shows how to use the resources of default logic to think rigorously about how reasons interact in order to determine what we ought to do. In the course of doing so, it sheds bright light on a range of murky topics ranging from the possibility of all-things-considered moral conflicts to the mechanics of exclusionary reasons to the role of principles in moral theory. And even more excitingly, it poses sharp and difficult questions whose shape would not be visible if not for the clarity offered by the framework of the book." --Mark Schroeder, University of Southern California
Oxford University Press, USA; March 2012
276 pages; ISBN 9780199909667
276 pages; ISBN 9780199909667