Reliable and unreliable judgments about reasons

Caitrin Donovan*, Cordelia Fine, Jeanette Kennett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The new skepticism about practical reason is predicated upon empirical findings which challenge the primacy traditionally afforded to reasoning in contexts of normative deliberation. These findings, which are associated with dual-process theories of cognition, are taken to support two skeptical claims: our reasons for action are not what we take them to be, and reasoning is an unreliable means for arriving at reliable judgments. After providing a critical overview of empirically based skepticism and its implications, we argue that skeptics underestimate the role that reasoning processes play in moral deliberation. We then canvass ways in which threats to the reliability of individual-level moral reasoning can be countenanced by social-level practices such as "nudging," inter-agent reasoning, and testimonial expertise.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford handbook of reasons and normativity
EditorsDaniel Star
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780199657889
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018


  • Deliberation
  • Haidt
  • Moral cognition
  • Normative judgments
  • Psychology
  • Reasoning
  • Reasons
  • Social intuitionism

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