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Particularism and Reasons: A Reply to Kirchin

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Valency switching can appear especially puzzling if we think of moral reasons as ‘pushes and pulls’—considerations whose job it is to get us to act or to stop us acting. Talk of ‘default valency’ doesn't remove the puzzle, it merely restates it. We need a different picture of reasons—perhaps as providing a map of the moral terrain which helps us to see which actions are appropriate to which situations, and who the appropriate agents are. The role of virtue concepts in particular is more complex and varied than that of providing ‘reasons for acting’. A more holistic picture of reasons can make valency switching less mysterious.

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Affiliations: 1: School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, Email:


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