Day 1 (May 31)

  • 11-12:30: Julien Dutant (KCL) – The Non-Factualist’s Shiny Oughts
  • Lunch
  • 1:30-3:00: Clayton Littlejohn (KCL) – You’re so Vain. You Probably think your Reasons Should Guide You
  • 3:00-4:30: Kathryn Lindeman (Saint Louis) – TBA

Day 2 (June 1)

  • 10-11:30: Maria Alvarez (KCL) – False Beliefs and the Reasons we Don’t Have
  • 11:30-1: Errol Lord (UPenn) – The Variety of Epistemic Reasons and the Failures of Evidentialism and Pragmatism

Registration is not required, but it would be appreciated if you send an email to Clayton Littlejohn to let him know how many to expect.

The talks will all be held in Room 508 in the Philosophy Building in KCL*. (It should go without saying, but postgraduate students are warmly encouraged to attend.) The point of the workshop is to provide the audience with a look at recent work on reasons and the role that they play in theoretical or practical reasoning or in our normative theories. There will be ample time for discussion. (Attendees who want a quick overview of earlier work on reasons can consult Maria Alvarez’s entry on reasons in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Each speaker will get (approx.) 50 minutes to present their work and the audience will have 30 minutes for Q&A. There will be a short break between each presentation and a break for lunch.

* Because of recent events, security has been tightened at KCL and you’ll need to enter the building via the main entrance on the Strand and then navigate the rabbit warren to find your way to the philosophy building. There will be signs to the philosophy building and the office is set in the center. The talks will take place in the room next to it.



  • Maria Alvarez – False beliefs and the reasons we don’t have 

Recent debates about reasons have led to a consensus that reasons for acting or believing –‘normative reasons’– are facts (‘factualism). Some authors, ‘anti-factualists’, have argued that we should accept this view in relation to normative reasons that there are for someone to do something but not in relation to the normative reasons one has, since those may be false beliefs. I argue that the distinction between reasons there are and reasons one has doesn’t support this anti-factualist position. I also argue that, contrary to what its detractors say, factualism can explain why agents who act on false beliefs often act rationally. The conclusion is that these arguments don’t show that anyone has a reason to abandon factualism.

  • Julien Dutant – The non-factualist’s shiny oughts 

There has been much debate recently on “inter-level” principles such as: · one may/ought to F just if one may/ought to believe that one may/ought to F. · it’s rationally permitted/required if and only if it’s rationally permitted for one to believe that one may/ought to F. And similar principles with “one has decisive reason to F”, “one has sufficient reason to F” instead of “ought” and “may”. While they are powerful considerations in favour of such principles, they appear incompatible with plausible limitations on the luminosity on our evidence. It turns out, however, that the incompatibility is contingent on whether we regard “may” or “ought” claims as expressing facts. For, as shown in this paper, the first principle is true on non-factualists semantics for “may” and “ought”. Moreover, the second is true even if we treat “rational” as factual, provided with treat “may/ought” as non-factual. Thus if, as some philosophers of language think, “ought”, “reason” and “rational” can be used with either reading, the debate over inter-level principles is plagued with equivocation. In particular, the intuitive appeal and considerations in favor of the principles are likely to be based on their non-factualist readings on the claims involved.

  • Clayton Littlejohn – You’re so vain. You probably think your reasons should guide you

According to a standard account of reasons, normative reasons determine what we should do. These reasons are constituted by facts, typically the facts about the situation that we would ordinarily think of as pros or cons. When the reasons that line up on one side outweigh the reasons that line up on the other, there is a decisive case for acting this way and this is what the agent ought to do. If developed in a certain way, the account implies that we sometimes ought to act irrationally. (If it’s a fact that the sun will explode if Audrey washes her hair, there aren’t enough reasons in the galaxy to outweigh this one and Audrey shouldn’t wash her hair. If, however, Audrey’s evidence is anything like we’d expect it to be, it wouldn’t be rational for her to decide not to wash her hair.) Some are troubled by this. This paper looks at some recent attempts to impose epistemic constraints on reasons to eliminate clashes between the requirements of rationality and reasons. I shall argue that any set of constraints adequate for eliminating the clashes will undermine standard factualism and discuss the significance of this for recent work in reasonology.