Incommensurability and Agency

Joseph Raz

in Engaging Reason

Published in print January 2002 | ISBN: 9780199248001
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598272 | DOI:
 Incommensurability and Agency

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Human agents act for reasons that contribute to their good. However, in our explanation of why agents act for reasons that depend on what they value, we encounter the problem of situations in which goods are neither better than others nor are of equal value. The incommensurability of value can then be seen to lead to an incommensurability of reasons for action. Examining rationalist and classical conceptions of human agency, Raz uses the presence of incommensurability to understand how this affects the relation between reasons and the will, and its effects on our practical reasoning and deliberation. A proper understanding of human agency will take for granted that the goodness of options are incommensurate and that explanations concerning what we want cannot solely be accomplished in terms of reasons.

Keywords: agency; incommensurability; reasons; value

Chapter.  11018 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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