Why Should I : If You Can't Explain Normativity

Activity: Talks or PresentationsOther Invited Talks or Presentations


In a 2003 paper, Christine Korsgaard claims that a “realist theory of reasons cannot provide a coherent account of rationality.” This talk will defend Korsgaard’s position, or something close to it. A starting assumption of the debate, one which Korsgaard’s opponents insist on as well, is that rationality is a matter of responsiveness to reasons. To put this another way, to fail to respond to reasons is to be irrational. But the views Korsgaard dubs "realist" leave it mysterious why it would be irrational to fail to respond to reasons (a point also made by James Dreier and Shamik Dasgupta). Korsgaard's insight, as I understand it, is that rationality should not be mysterious. This is why the account of rationality on offer is, in her words, incoherent. My talk will involve developing an argument based around this insight. For some requirement, consideration, or value to possess rational authority over some agent, it must meet what I will call the intelligibility constraint. That is, the mistake involved in challenging the requirement, consideration, or value must be one that can be made intelligible to the agent. I will present various considerations to motivate the intelligibility constraint. Then I will show how Humean, Kantian, and similar views can meet the constraint, while it remains mysterious how the sorts of views Korsgaard regards as realist could do the same.
Period13 Sep 2021
Held atDepartment of Philosophy