Reasons as Defaults


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.1 X 0.7 X 9.1 inches | 0.88 pounds
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About the Author

John F. Horty is Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland. He is the author of Agency and Deontic Logic and Frege on Definitions.


"The beauty of this book is that while at the same time it opens unexpected and challenging complexity in familiar problems, it provides tools to master this complexity with a sense that an outcome of permanent value has been accomplished. In doing so, it takes the philosophy of normative reasoning to a new level, and, I think, provides some hope that this sort of clarity can be preserved even as the scope of the theory is widened."
--Richmond H. Thomason, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Through Horty's lucid and elegant development of the logic of default reasoning we are presented with strikingly new applications to philosophical issues. Deontic logic is taken out of its Procrustean bed in possible world semantics, the debates over moral dilemmas and particularism in ethics are transformed. This is truly an eye-opening book."
--Bas van Fraassen, Princeton University and San Francisco State University

"The notion of a reason is a basic part of the way in which we understand the world and our place in it. Until now, like others, I have taken the view that this notion cannot be analysed; at best it can be explicated in terms of considerations that favour responses. Horty's book shows that my pessimism was premature: a reason is a premise of a triggered default rule. This is a notable contribution, one which anyone who wants to understand reasons will need to address."
--Jonathan Dancy, University of Reading and University of Texas

"This is a beautiful, elegant book. It should be required reading for anyone serious about thinking rigorously about ethics. According to a now-orthodox conception, what we ought to do is a product of the interaction of our reasons for different options. But very little serious work has been done on how reasons come together to determine what we ought to do, and much of that has been naive. In this fascinating and deep book, Horty shows how to use the resources of default logic in order to think rigorously about how reasons interact. In the course of doing so, it sheds bright light on a number of murky topics ranging from the possibility of all-things-considered moral conflicts to the mechanics of exclusionary reasons to the role of principles in moral theory. And even more excitingly, it poses sharp and difficult important new questions whose shape would not be visible if not for the clarity offered by the framework of the book."
--Mark Schroeder, University of Southern California