This chapter discusses the notion of a reason for action. It begins by distinguishing epistemic from practical reasons, and suggests that all practical reasons must be grounded in well-being. It distinguishes between explanatory (including motivating) reasons, and normative reasons. Normative reasons are defined as properties of actions that count, for the agent in question, in favour of the performance of those actions by that agent. Normative reasons are then categorized as either grounding or justificatory, the former being those of primary interest in ethics. It is argued that reasons, to use Williams's term, are ‘external’. This external view is defended against his objections, and then realism about reasons against Humean and Kantian critiques. The chapter concludes with discussions of the relation between reasons and values and a defence against the arguments of G. E. Moore and T. M. Scanlon that the concept of well-being cannot be central to ethics.
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