chapter  3
3 Pages

Disjunctivism

I finish this section by trying to allay an interesting worry, to do with the connection between normative reasons and action explanation. The worry, in a word, is that Anscombe’s view makes the business of action explanation, even as conducted through second-person interactions, excessively and perhaps insanely demanding. Accepting the reason given by the agent would, in basic cases, involve accepting that there is some desirable outcome that the action helps to promote. This, you might say, makes explaining what one is doing look too much like trying to get the audience to collaborate. Without pretending to do justice to this large and interesting topic, I would make two immediate points in response. One is that it is far from implausible that accepting the agent’s reason involves some evaluative commitments; the other is that these are fairly minimal. If the photographer’s account of his action turns on an objective we do not consider to be in any way desirable (assassinating rather than photographing Marilyn Monroe, say), we would not be disposed fully to share his reason. But it is a further question whether the evaluative commitment we incur in accepting someone’s reason will have any practical implications for us. We may lack the requisite skills, opportunities, temperament, and so forth, and even if the commitment generates practical reasons for us, these may be defeated by other considerations. Perhaps we will at least acquire a good reason not to interfere with the agent’s activities. But this does not look like an implausibly onerous commitment.11