The Reasons Management Framework
In the dissertation, I explore a notion of practical deliberation that sits at the mean between two extremes: (a) reality does not favor any way of acting, and (b) reality requires us to adopt specific projects and values.
To be specific, I motivate the following two theses from Lord (2018): (1) Possessed Reasons: What we ought to do is determined by our possessed reasons, and (2) Possession: What it is for agent A to possess reason R to φ provided by fact F is for A to be in a position to manifest knowledge about how to use R to φ. I then defend the following thesis: Management: An agent can control which reasons she possesses by controlling whether she satisfies the conditions for their possession. These three theses, taken together, constitute the Reasons Management Framework (RMF).
In the dissertation, I motivate and develop the implications of RMF. I make the case that RMF allows us to adopt a broadly realist view of normativity that is familiar to us: it (a) acknowledges the existence of objective reasons and values, but also (b) gives agents flexibility in deciding which objective reasons and values will play a role in determining what they ought to do.
The dissertation is organized into four chapters. First, I prepare the way for RMF by defending normative realism against a recent anti-realist objection. Second, I motivate RMF and consider its implications. Third, I consider the objection that RMF allows for moral rationalization and reflect on the rational justification for reasons management broadly speaking. Finally, I apply RMF to the context of romantic love and the Trading Up Problem.
Here is the final draft defended June 2019.