Reasons and the ambiguity of 'belief'.
Philosophical Explorations, 11, (1), . (doi:10.1080/13869790701772435).
Two conceptions of motivating reasons, i.e., the reasons for which we act, can be found in the
literature: (i) the dominant ‘psychological conception’, which says that motivating reasons
are an agent’s believing something; and (ii) the ‘non-psychological’ conception, the minority
view, which says that they are what the agent believes – his beliefs. In this paper I outline
and defend a version of the second conception of motivating reasons.
Similar conceptions of motivating reasons have been defended persuasively by a
minority of philosophers recently. However, this minority position is still regarded as
implausible or confused, mostly because it is not sufficiently well understood, or because it is
thought to bring with it insuperable difficulties. Here I offer a detailed and distinctive version
of that minority view – a version that, I think, overcomes the apparently insuperable
difficulties associated with the minority view. I also offer an account of the relation between
motivating reasons and the explanation of action.
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