Book Review

Mantel, Susanne. Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 204. $140.00 (cloth).

Citation

Field C (2019) Mantel, Susanne. Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 204. $140.00 (cloth).. Review of: Mantel, Susanne. Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 204. $140.00 (cloth).. Ethics, 129 (3), pp. 484-489. https://doi.org/10.1086/701487

Abstract
First page: Susanne Mantel presents a welcome new account of what it is to act for a normative reason. In her words, “an action that is performed for a normative reason manifests the agent’s normative competence with respect to that reason” (42). Acting for a normative reason is to be distinguished from acting merely in accordance with a normative reason. For example, “Suppose Finn should turn off the horror movie because a child is entering the room who will otherwise be scared. Finn turns off the movie, but he is doing this only for the fun of annoying Lisa” (1). The consideration “that a child is entering the room” is a normative reason for Finn to turn off the horror movie, and although he does turn off the horror movie, he does not do so for the normative reason, even though he acts in accordance with the normative reason. This matters for appraising Finn’s action. We might think that doing the right thing deserves praise, but once we learn that Finn only did the right thing because he wanted to annoy Lisa, he does not seem to deserve praise after all. Determining whether an agent acts for or merely in accordance with a normative reason requires an account of this distinction. Mantel does an excellent job of providing such an account.

Keywords
Philosophy;

StatusPublished
Publication date30/04/2019
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISSN0014-1704
eISSN1539-297X
Item discussedMantel, Susanne. Determined by Reasons: A Competence Account of Acting for a Normative Reason. New York: Routledge, 2018. Pp. 204. $140.00 (cloth).