Reasons as Explanations: A Genuine Alternative to the Guise of the Good Thesis
When we see a consideration as a reason for action we see said consideration as
supporting, or speaking in favor of, performing the action. It has been difficult to make
progress in unpacking the “supporting”, or “speaking in favor of” relation. According to
the standard account, the “guise of the good thesis”, we see a consideration as supporting
an action insofar as we see it as pointing to the good in the action.
In my dissertation, I argue that this is misguided; it leaves us with a distorted and
overly virtuous picture of human agency. My overall project is to provide a viable
alternative to this long-held view. I put forward and defend an explanation-based view of
Though some views of practical reasoning have pointed to explanation to illuminate
the way reasons support performing actions, the accounts have been woefully
underdeveloped. In my dissertation I mine the philosophy of science literature on
explanation in order to apply a pragmatic theory of explanation to the practical domain.
With the theory of explanation in hand, I can provide standards for good and bad reasons
for action. I show how my view thereby accounts for how reasons support performing
actions in both our deliberation and justification practices, and rivals the guise of the good
model of practical reasoning without relying on evaluative content.