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Acting for Reasons

Tomlinson, Laura (2019) Acting for Reasons. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation addresses the question, “What is the relation of reasons to actions?” Throughout this work I argue that reasons are internal to actions; that there is no specifying an action without reference to reasons; and thus that there is no thought of action apart from thought of reasons.

I begin in Chapter One by sketching a dialectic in the literature on the theoretical inference, showing that the philosophical understanding of it is beset by a serious dilemma between over-intellectualization, and under-intellectualization. Turning to the topic of reasons for acting, I argue that the relation between reasons, as understood by contemporary authors, and actions is beset by an analogous dilemma.

In Chapter Two, I examine two recently proposed solutions to the dilemma for the theoretical inference, with an eye toward what these solutions, though distinct, have in common. I argue that they share a similar kind of re-envisioning of the question of inference. Then I show that an analogous re-envisioning is not only possible in the practical case, but is already underwritten and embraced by a particular theory of action: the Anscombean theory. If that theory is in a privileged position to solve the dilemma that faces accounts of reasons for action, then we have good reason to accept it.

I turn to an ethical application of this conception of action in Chapter Three. Taking up the topic of moral worth—as opposed to moral desirability—I argue that a parsimonious and fully accurate account can be given only if we make use of the insights gained by the Anscombean theory of action. That theory is, therefore, bolstered still further by solving the puzzle of moral worth, as well as puzzles about de dicto and de re motivation.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Tomlinson, Lauralgt8@pitt.edulgt8
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThompson,
Committee MemberMcDowell,
Committee MemberWhiting,
Committee MemberSchafer,
Date: 26 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 29 July 2019
Approval Date: 26 September 2019
Submission Date: 12 September 2019
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 105
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Reasons, Intentional Action, Inference, Moral Worth
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2019 12:25
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2021 05:15


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