1. Responding to Normative and Moral Reasons
It is generally presumed in moral philosophy that morality provides us with moral reasons to perform certain actions and to avoid performing other actions. Moral reasons are usually thought of as instances of normative reasons: ‘real’ reasons in contrast to mere motivating or apparent reasons. According to an influential notion, normative reasons should in turn be spelled out in terms of practical rationality. We shall investigate questions relating to the connection between moral reasons and other kinds of normative reasons, the connection between normative reasons and rationality, the connection between rationality and desires, the overridingness of moral reasons, and how the notion of a moral reason informs the notion of rationality.
Main investigators: Caj Strandberg (CSMN/IFIKK), Mathias Slåttholm Sagdahl (AUT/CSMN), Carla Bagnoli (Università degli Studi di Modena/IFIKK).
1.1. ‘Between’ Internalism and Externalism about Reasons
There is a long and persistent debate between internalism and externalism concerning whether normative reasons depend on, and vary with, our wants or desires or whether they are independent of them. This sub-project aims to investigate the possibility of a position ‘between’ these two camps according to which some reasons depend on, and vary with, our desires while other reasons are desire independent. In particular, it will investigate whether this view can be combined with a procedural view of rationality according to which what is rational to desire is the result of a process of rational deliberation. In case this subproject turns out to be viable, it would be an important step forward in the debate, since it means that there could be categorical moral reasons also according to a procedural view about rationality.
Main investigator: Caj Strandberg (CSMN/IFIKK)
1.2. The Weighing of Moral Reasons
When philosophers think about what agents ought to do, they typically engage with questions of moral philosophy. What often happens is that the philosophers try to find out what considerations are morally relevant and what moral significance those considerations have. They then tend to give a verdict about what you ought to do under these relevancy conditions. This conclusion can therefore be described as a verdict about what one morally ought to do. But philosophers also typically assume that in addition to the questions of what one morally ought to do, there is a broader question of what one ought to do all things considered where other types of non-moral considerations are also taken into account, such as prudential considerations. The question then arises how moral reasons relate with other types of reasons and how they might combine to determine what we ought to do all things considered. An influential idea is that this is done by comparing the ‘weight’ of the different types of reasons. This sub-project examines the difficulties with this assumption of comparability in terms of ‘weight’ or ‘strength’ between different types of reasons and investigates whether we may make sense of normativity and practical reasoning without this assumption.
Main investigator: Mathias Slåttholm Sagdahl (AUT/CSMN)
The sub-project is done in cooperation with the Ethics Research Group at the Arctic University of Norway (AUT).