This book contains a collection of new papers on the topic of reasons for belief, sometimes referred to in the literature as ‘theoretical reasons’. The papers in this volume address two broad themes: the nature of reasons for belief and the application of reasons for belief to other traditional problems in epistemology. The choice of these two themes reflects the rationale for putting together this volume.
For a period of roughly 35 years, practical philosophers have been appealing to reasons to do ever more work in their theorizing. Early debates in practical philosophy posed the question of whether one could have normative reasons for action – considerations that count in favour of an agent's performing a particular action or actions – that were disconnected from an agent's own motivations. Soon the value of thinking of broader problems in ethics in terms of reasons became apparent, and now appeals to reasons populate debates across normative ethics and metaethics alike. Reasons became a kind of common currency for consideration of the normative issues in practical philosophy.
Like those in ethics and other areas of practical philosophy, many of the problems studied in epistemology are also normative. Epistemologists have traditionally examined these problems through discussions of justification and warrant. Increasingly, however, philosophers interested in the problems of normative epistemology have appealed to reasons both to help explicate justification, warrant, and related concepts, and to address independently other concerns in epistemology.