Chapter

Any State or Event May Be a Reason for Which Somebody Does Something

Rüdiger Bittner

in Doing Things for Reasons

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780195143645
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833085 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195143647.003.0006
Any State or Event May Be a Reason for Which Somebody Does Something

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Given that reasons for which people do things are states of affairs and events in the world, are there additional restrictions on what can be a reason for what? Many writers have claimed that there are, arguing that actions and the reasons for which they are done derive from particular systems of meaning. The pivot on which their argument turns is the notion of a constitutive rule, introduced by Rawls and taken up by writers like Charles Taylor and Searle; i.e., the notion of a rule such that without it the activity in question could not exist. The chapter argues, by contrast, that there are no constitutive rules, and that it is purely an empirical matter to figure out what is a reason for what action. This does not bar from reason status rules, customs, obligations, and similar things deemed to involve meanings.

Keywords: action; constitutive rule; custom; obligation; reasons for action; rule; system of meaning

Chapter.  5050 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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