Saturday, October 27, 2007

Raz on Vindicating Normativity

It is not enough to point out that creatures with no rational capacities are not persons. Clearly there is nothing amiss with pigeons, even though they do not have rational capacities. A vindication of normativity has to show what is amiss with failing to conform to reason on this or that occasion.

At this point I have to admit that I no longer understand the sense of puzzlement. What is amiss with failing to conform to reason is just that. It can be specified further: it may be defrauding a person of his money, or it may be wasting one's talent, or missing an opportunity to make a lot of money, or remaining confused about black holes. It all depends on the nature of the reasons one flouted. But clearly that is not the puzzle. It has something to do with vindicating reasons or normativity in general, without assuming their cogency. So what is it? We do know that people who flout reason sometimes prosper. Is the desire for some further vindication of reasons a hope that philosophical argument can show this to be an illusion? But there is no illusion there.

- J. Raz, 'Reason, Reasons and Normativity', pp.28-9.


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