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Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 10, 2008

Ethics

Kenneth Shockley
Pages 391-400

The Agent Relativity of Directed Reasons

Directed reasons are reasons that rely for their normative significance on the authority one individual has with respect to another. Acts such as promising seem to generate such reasons. These reasons seem paradigmatically agent relative: they do not hold for all agents. This paper provides a defense of the claim that the form of agent relativism seemingly required by directed reasons is innocuous, and poses no general problem for a practice dependent account of directed reasons, and, therefore, for consequentialism. While the position I present does not constitute a complete teleological account of value, it points toward a way of integrating directed reasons into a practice-based account of value. The position presented also remains consistent with the so called Compelling Idea that often motivates consequentialism: it is always permissible for an agent to do what will lead to the outcome that is best.

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