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Weighing Reasons$
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Errol Lord and Barry Maguire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.001.0001

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Commitment: Worth the Weight

Commitment: Worth the Weight

Chapter:
(p.104) 5 Commitment: Worth the Weight
Source:
Weighing Reasons
Author(s):

Alida Liberman

Mark Schroeder

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.003.0005

This chapter takes an indirect approach to the question of how people weigh conflicting reasons to determine what they ought to do. It is argued that obligations are a distinct normative concept that also admits of weighing. A natural, simple way due to W. D. Ross—Simple Weighing—of construing the manner in which both reasons and obligations are weighed is introduced. Commitments are introduced as a third normative concept that admits of weighing, and it is argued that Simple Weighing is inadequate for commitments. Commitments, it is argued, are actually a special case of self-imposed obligations; it follows that obligations in general need a more sophisticated weighing process than it first appears. The payoff for our understanding of the weight of reasons is a challenge: if Ross was wrong about how obligations weigh, could Simple Weighing also be wrong about how reasons weigh?

Keywords:   commitment, reason, obligation, weighing, conflict, W. D. Ross, Sam Shpall

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