Rules, Reasons, and Norms
Philip Pettit has drawn together here a series of interconnected essays on three subjects to which he has made notable contributions. The first part of the book deals with the rule-following character of thought. The second discusses the many factors to which choice is rationally responsive - and by reference to which choice can be explained - consistently with being under the control of thought. The third examines the implications of this multiple sensitivity for the normative regulation of social affairs. Thus the volume covers a large swathe of territory, ranging from metaphysics to philosophical psychology to the theory of rational regulation. The connections that Pettit makes between these areas are original and illuminating. Each part of the book develops a key theme. The first is that thought succeeds in following rules - and overcomes Wittgenstein's rule-following problem - so far as it is response-dependent; it is a sort of enterprise that is accessible only to creatures like us for whom certain responses are primitive and shared. The second is that while human choice may be sensitive to discursive reasons, as we would expect in a thinking subject, it can at the same time be subject to the control - the virtual control, in the model developed here - of rational self-interest. And the third is that the rational interest of agents in achieving esteem in the eyes of others, and in avoiding disesteem, exercises a virtual form of control that can explain the emergence of norms and various other aspects of social life.
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