The Phenomenal Appreciation of Reasons: (Or: How Not to Be a Psychopath).




Huckleberry Finn believes that by helping Miss Watson’s slave Jim escape to freedom, he is doing something wrong. But Huck does it anyway—and many want to give him moral credit for this choice. If Huck is to be worthy of such moral esteem, however, it seems there must be some implicit way of appreciating and responding to considerations as moral reasons that does not involve explicitly believing that those considerations are moral reasons. This chapter argues that an agent like Huck can implicitly appreciate a consideration as a moral reason to φ‎ by presenting it under the light of a particular phenomenologically-mediated mode of presentation: one that presents that consideration via the light of a felt directive force “pointing” towards φ‎-ing—lending weight to it, or soliciting it—in a particular authoritative way. Thus, I suggest, Huck may be understood on analogy with a young jazz piano virtuoso. As she may appreciate that the G-seventh chord having been played just so constitutes an aesthetic reason for her to ease into the C-major-seventh chord just so by virtue of experiencing the former as pointing or directing her to the latter, so also, I propose, Huck may appreciate the considerations speaking in favor of helping Jim as moral reasons to help Jim by virtue of experiencing them as pointing or directing him to help Jim. The chapter also examines and rejects four alternative proposals for how to account for implicit reasons-appreciation: first, a de re account of appreciation and then three additional accounts of appreciation derived from major theories of mental representation (inferentialist, causal tracking, and functionalist theories).

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