Acting for Reasons and the Metaphysics of Time

Pearson, Olley (2022) Acting for Reasons and the Metaphysics of Time. Philosophical Studies . ISSN 0031-8116

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This paper concerns acting for reasons and how this can inform debates about the metaphysics of time. Storrs-Fox (2021) has argued against the A-theory of time on the grounds that it cannot adequately account for the explanation of actions. Storrs-Fox assumes that explanation is forever. He argues that this is incompatible with the A-theory because the reasons people act for are the explanantia of their actions, though according to the A-theory these reasons, that is facts, often do not obtain forever and therefore nor do the explanations. I will argue that many particular explanatory relations are not forever because reasons for actions must often fade as a person cannot now have a reason to do something at an earlier time. Generally, people cannot affect the past and therefore cannot have rational obligations to do so. Therefore, the A-theory does not face the problem Storrs-Fox suggests. In fact, the A-theory says what ought to be said and accounts for the wider phenomena of responding to reasons better than the B-theory. It is often the case that an agent acts rationally only if that agent acts on the basis of a present tensed belief. This implies that present tensed beliefs capture facts that no tenseless beliefs do, because the rationality of an action is determined by the reasons an agent acts for, not the beliefs through which the agent is aware of these. However, the B-theory, unlike the A-theory, denies there are any facts thus uniquely captured by present tensed beliefs.

Keywords:time, reasons, philosophy
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V500 Philosophy
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage > Lincoln School of Humanities and Heritage (Humanities)
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ID Code:52680
Deposited On:02 Dec 2022 09:40

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