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Title: The darker steed : reason, passion and self-awareness
Author: Phillips, Edgar Haydon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 9996
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Reasons 'favour' and justify actions, but they also explain our actions. Because we are self-aware, rational agents whose actions are guided by our appreciation of what reasons we have to act, these explanatory and justificatory roles are not wholly separate. A person's reasons for acting make sense of their action from their point of view as its agent: they show us why the person did what they did by showing us what point they saw in doing it. There is, however, a tension within the idea of reasons as normative and explanatory. Considered as normative, it is natural to think of reasons as objective and universal: reasons are backed up by normative principles, and if something is a reason for me to act in a certain way, it would be a reason for anyone in relevantly similar circumstances to do the same. But explaining a person's actions from their point of view-showing the point they saw in doing what they did-often introduces elements of idiosyncrasy, in particular when an action is explained by false beliefs or quirky desires. Belief's role, I argue, is easily accommodated by the universalistic conception. Reasons are facts; because we make mistakes about the facts, we can make mistakes about our reasons. In these cases, understanding my action from my perspective simply requires an appreciation of my perspective on what universal reasons I had. Desire, however, poses a more serious challenge. Many desires cannot be understood just by considering their subject's perspective on universal reasons, but they can and do figure ineliminably in our understanding of our own actions. We thus need to recognise that some reasons are not universal but irreducibly personal and particular. There is thus a plurality within reasons for action: reason is universal, and it is idiosyncratic.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available