Reasons vs. Causes Essay

This essay has a total of 647 words and 3 pages.

Reasons vs. Causes

Reasons vs. Causes
a€¢ Reasons tell us why we ought to believe (do) something. Causes tell us why we
in fact do believe (do something).

a€¢ Reasons are normative, causes are factual.
a€¢ Reasons justify, causes explain.

(Caution: the terms here are imprecise, and we use terms such as a€˜explanationa€™
or a€˜reasona€™ in different ways than just outlined.)

Example. Suppose I say: a€œI believe that there are no triangles.a€� You say
a€œWhy do you believe that?a€� You can be either asking for the cause of my belief
or (more likely in this case) for my reasons for believing it.

Suppose that you are interested in the explanation of why (as a matter of fact) I hold the
belief. I may tell you (truthfully) that I hold this belief because my father told me so
(perhaps kept saying so), so I kind of have come to hold the belief by default, as it
were. In doing so I make no pretense to argue that this is a reason a€" I may in fact
believe that my father holds many false beliefs. I am only claiming that as a matter of
fact this is how I came to believe that there are no triangles. Ia€™ve told you what
the cause is, not what my reasons are.
Continues for 2 more pages >>




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