1st Edition

Determined by Reasons A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason

By Susanne Mantel Copyright 2018
    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book offers a new account of what it is to act for a normative reason. The first part of the book introduces some popular ideas and problems concerning causal and dispositional approaches of acting for reasons. The author argues that the dispositional approach should take a certain form that unites epistemic, volitional, and executional dispositions in a complex normative competence. This "Normative Competence Account" allows for more and less reflective ways of acting for normative reasons. The second part of the book clarifies the relation between the normative reason that an agent acts for and his or her motivating reasons. The chapters in this part refute the widely held "identity view" that acting for a normative reason requires the normative reason to be identical with a motivating reason. The author describes how normative reasons are related to motivating reasons by a relation of correspondence, and proposes a new understanding of how normative reasons explain those actions that are performed for them. Determined by Reasons engages with current debates from a wide range of different philosophical areas, including action theory, metaethics, moral psychology, epistemology, and ontology, to develop a new account of normative reasons.

    1. Introduction

    Part I: Acting for a Normative Reason

    2. The Causal Account and the Role of Dispositions

    3. The Normative Competence Account

    4. Two Ways of Acting for a Normative Reason

    5. Conclusion of Part I

    Part II: Squaring Normative Reasons with Motivating Reasons

    6. The Identity Thesis

    7. Worldly Reasons in the Deliberative Realm

    8. Worldly Reasons in the Explanatory Realm

    9. Worldly Reasons and the Psychological Account of Action

    10. Conclusion of Part II and General Reflections


    Susanne Mantel is an assistant at Saarland University. She works on metaethics, action theory, and epistemology with a focus on reasons and normativity. Her articles have been published in Erkenntnis, Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Explorations, and Synthese. She received the Wolfgang-Stegmüller-Preis and the Lauener Prize for Up and Coming Philosophers.

    "A summary like this cannot give a proper impression of the subtlety of Mantel's reasoning, the wide knowledge of the literature she brings to bear on the issues, the lucid exposition, the careful, critical and considerate manner in which she proceeds . . . the book is a work of outstanding philosophical craft . . . technically highly competent, well informed and carefully thought through in every detail, [it] will be profitable to discuss for all those eager to understand action for reasons." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "Mantel offers a novel theory of what it is to act for a good reason and challenges some popular assumptions about the ontology of reasons . . . There is much to like about this book. Her discussion is packed with arguments. Her proposals are original and insightful. I think that her account of basing should shed light on a number of outstanding problems in epistemology, the philosophy of action, and ethical theory. I can recommend this unreservedly to anyone with interests in these areas." --Clayton Littlejohn in Mind

    "Mantel’s account of acting for a normative reason is an insightful and welcome new addition to the literature and helpfully advances various distinct debates in normativity, moral psychology, and action theory." --Claire Field in Ethics

    "Reading Susanne Mantel’s Determined by Reasons felt a lot like I imagine it would feel to have your hand held by an expert as they guide you through a minefield. Densely argued and highly original, her demolition of existing views of what it is to act for reasons is completely convincing, as are her arguments for her own normative competence account. This book is a must-read for philosophers of action and metaethicists alike." --Michael Smith, Princeton University, USA

    "In this excellent monograph, Susanne Mantel provides us with a fascinating, novel account of what it is to act for a reason. According to Mantel, a special kind of normative competence is required for acting on reasons. The account of normative competence on offer is sophisticated. I found one of its key virtues to be that it offers to explain how we are able to respond to reasons in an unreflective, non-intellectual manner, as well as in a reflective, intellectual manner. I highly recommend this book to everyone interested in reasons." --Daniel Star, Boston University, USA