Saturday, November 5, 2011

Derek Parfit -- Reasons weighed against Reasons

Parfit goes on at some length about how facts give us reasons.  He gives examples like being allergic to walnuts gives us a reason not to eat them.  He goes on to say that reasons counteract other reasons.  None of this is particularly interesting. 

He praises rationality as a way of determining how we ought to act.  He goes on at some tedious length about 'relevant' reasons providing 'sufficient' reasons for acting in certain ways, all the while begging the questions that plague the history of ethics -- at least, so far.  My advice is that if he's going to re-establish normative ethics on some sort of foundation that people can really sink their teeth into, he needs to get to it a tad sooner otherwise people will think he doesn't really have anything.

Here goes:
"When we call something good, in what we call the reason-implying sense, we mean roughly that there are certain kinds of fact about this thing's nature, or properties, that would in certain situations give us or others strong reasons to respond to this thing in some positive way, such as wanting, choosing, using, producing, or preserving this thing"(pg. 87)

Thanks. But what I want to know is what moral properties are and how they can impel moral action.  And for Parfit, or any neo-Kantian, we must have moral action as such.  There must be "moral" reasons, that rationally impel action.  The whole question of the existence of such things is begged.

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