Are Reasons Like Shampoo?
This essay considers various constraints placed by philosophers on what they take to be a shared concept of a reason for action. I try to show that these constraints are incompatible with one another, proceeding to argue that we would therefore do better to embrace a conceptual pluralism. On such a pluralism, there is no such thing as the concept of a reason for action. Interminable debates about the nature of reasons for action arise precisely because no single thing called a 'reason for action' can perform all the varying functions that philosophers require of it. As with products such as three-in-one shampoos, each individual function is performed at the expense of others. Unlike such stuffs, however, some of the desired functions of reasons cannot be combined at all. I conclude that neither disjunctivist nor anti-disjunctivist accounts of reasons for action are capable of providing a unifying account of them.