The Moral Notion of Practical Reason

  • Torbjörn TännsjöEmail author
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 22)


Moral reasons for action exist, if they do exist, independently of whether we know about them or not. If I have a (conclusive) moral reason to perform a certain action, then, as a matter of fact, I ought to perform it. The ‘ought’ in question is a categorical one. The point is not that, if I want to be moral, I ought to perform this action (this would be a Humean reason for me to perform it). The point is that, irrespective of what I want, I ought to perform this action. The explanation of why I ought to perform this action is my moral reason to perform it. Some notion of a moral reason along these lines is common place. However, the definition here used was first put forward only recently by John Broome.1 The idea that the notion of a conclusive moral reason is basic is my own, however. Broome does not share it. This idea fits nicely with a traditional covering law notion of an explanation in general, however. I will get back to this.


Normative Fact Moral Reason Prima Facie Moral Belief Normative Reason 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of StockholmStockholmSweden

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