The Amherst Lecture In Philosophy.

Lecture 12, 2017

“What Are Moral Reasons?”
Stephen Darwall
Yale University

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In The Second-Person Standpoint and subsequent essays, I argue that the deontic moral concepts of obligation, duty, right, wrong, and the like resist analysis in terms of moral reasons for acting. I claim that the "fully deontic" ought of moral obligation has a conceptual connection to accountability and culpability that being recommended by moral reasons, however weighty, does not. Since oughts and reasons are so closely connected generally, however, the thought can seem irresistible that moral oughts must be understood in terms of moral reasons also. Here I put additional pressure on this admittedly attractive idea by asking what makes a reason a moral reason. I argue that the most promising account of moral reasons is that they are (fully deontic) moral obligation-making considerations. This turns the otherwise attractive idea on its head.

Preferred citation
Darwall, Stephen. “What Are Moral Reasons?” The Amherst Lecture in Philosophy 12 (2017): 1–24. <>.