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Publication Details

Robust Reason-Giving vs. Mere Triggering Reason-Giving: The Case of Request

(Original title: Robustní poskytování důvodů vs. pouhé spouštění důvodů: Případ žádosti)
Filozofia, 78 (2023), 3, 165 - 179.
Type of work: Original Articles
Publication language: Czech
David Enoch attempts to develop a general theory of authority, not by defining the concept of authority or identifying a normative reason for obeying its commands but by describing the mechanism of commanding. According to Enoch, commands are part of a broader phenomenon, the so-called robust reasongiving, which includes promises and requests in addition to commands. By describing the mechanism of robust reasongiving, we also get a description of the mechanism of commanding, Enoch says. Crucial to the theory of robust reason-giving is the intention of the person providing the reason. In other words, commanding, promising, or requesting can only be done by someone who can form a complex intention, that is, to have a will of his own. But it is precisely in intentionality that the problem of the theory of robust reason-giving lies, which Enoch points out. In Enoch’s view, adult human beings, not small children and animals, form sufficiently complex intentions. Yet it seems young children and perhaps even animals can request, that is, of providing reasons robustly. This incoherence needs to be resolved if a theory of robust reason-giving, and hence a general theory of authority, is to be plausible. In this text, I have suggested how to understand the requests of small children and animals. Their speech acts resembling requests can be relatively unproblematically considered as communicating needs or wishes or merely triggering motivational reasons-giving. If we do not classify their speech acts as robust reason-giving, the theory of robust reason-giving (at least on this issue) remains coherent and can form the basis of a general theory of authority.

Robust reason-giving, Triggering reason-giving, Command, Request, Intention

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