Reason-giving as an act of recognition
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Oliveira de Sousa, Felipe
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This thesis defends the claim that reason-giving is a discrete type of speech act (of an expressive kind) that has a distinctive value. It further argues that this value is best understood in terms of recognition, rather than justification, and that it is intrinsic to reason-giving. Its main aim is to argue against the commonly-held view that the main, sometimes the only, value to reason-giving lies in its capacity to provide justification (and in the related claim that if reasons cannot justify, then reason-giving has no value). The argument presented is intended to support that recognition (of a certain type) is a value that reason-giving has independently from any other value that it might or might not have – including justification; and hence, that reason-giving has a certain distinctive value that is not predicated upon a capacity for actually achieving justification. In particular, this thesis argues, based on speech act theory and on the concept of recognition, that this value is best understood as consisting in the expression of a particular type of recognition for the other. To establish this claim, in chapter one, it begins by setting out the standard view: that the value of reason-giving lies in its capacity to justify, and analyses some of the moves that have been made in the literature when the connection between reason-giving and justification breaks down. In chapters two to four, it uses speech act theory to analyse the acts of arguing and reason-giving, and to argue that reason-giving is a discrete speech act that has features in common with but is not reducible to arguing. Finally, in chapter five, it defends the claim that reason-giving has an intrinsic value, and that this value is best understood as an expressive value: namely, the expression of recognition for the other as a rational being (which is a valuable feature of the other’s humanity); and that it has this value regardless of whether the reasons in question are “good” from a justificatory standpoint.