Chapter

Reasons for Action and Defeasibility*

María Cristina Redondo

in The Logic of Legal Requirements

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199661640
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745461 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199661640.003.0019
Reasons for Action and Defeasibility*

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter analyzes the question of whether reasons for action are, or can be considered, defeasible. It distinguishes between two different kinds of defeasibility — epistemic and ontological — and applies these two concepts to reasons for action. Based on a realist understanding, the idea of a defeasible reason is simply nonsense: for if reasons are facts in the realist sense they cannot be defeasible. A statement in which defeasibility is predicated of a reason would thus be a self-contradictory statement. This is why, according to such a view, sentences such as ‘φ is a prima facie (defeasible) reason for doing what has been φ-ed’ must necessarily be interpreted by alluding to an epistemic problem, if we want to avoid contradictions within a realistic stance. Following an alternative, ‘constructivist’ understanding, defeasibility may instead be regarded not only as a predicate of reasons, but also as an inescapable property of them, since the existence of a reason for a specific action depends on a set of human beliefs and attitudes: this in turn makes it possible to assert without contradiction that something is a reason and is defeasible in itself.

Keywords: epistemic defeasibility; ontological defeasibility; reason; realist understanding

Chapter.  9408 words. 

Subjects: Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.