CFP: Reasons and Explanation (Synthese Topical Collection)

Submission deadline: October 31, 2024

Topic areas


In recent years, research on reasons has been an important driving force towards unifying debates in different philosophical disciplines, such as ethics, epistemology, philosophy of action and philosophy of mind. That reasons are so well suited for this unifying role is surely due to the fact that, despite their heterogeneity (there are epistemic reasons, moral reasons, prudential reasons, reasons for beliefs, for emotions, for actions, etc.), they exhibit certain structural features, which make it natural to draw parallels between reasons in different domains. For instance, whichever domain we look at, we can distinguish motivating from normative reasons, or explore the characteristic connections between reasons and related notions such as reasoning, inference and rationality. One such connection, which we think has not received as much attention as it deserves, is that between reasons and explanation. This is what our special issue aims to remedy. Our goal is to contribute to the project of unifying research on reasons by discussing cutting-edge work on the relationship between reasons and explanation in different domains.

Appropriate Topics for Submission include, among others:

Since we are interested in exploring how normative and motivating reasons are explained and how they explain or contribute to the explanation of other things, submissions may address any of the following questions:

1.    Questions concerning the explanation of normative reasons

- What are facts about normative reasons grounded in? Natural facts, value facts, facts about reasoning, …?

- Are (some) facts about reasons grounded in facts about (other) deontic (e.g. obligations, rightness) or axiological properties or relations (e.g. goodness), or are (all) facts about reasons more fundamental than the latter?

- Are explanations of normative reasons a species of or distinct from grounding explanations?

2.    Questions concerning the explanatory role of normative reasons

- Does the normative force of normative reasons play a role in explaining actions (beliefs, emotions) and, if so, how?

- Do facts about reasons ground facts about other deontic and/or evaluative entities, e.g. obligation facts, rightness facts, value facts...?

- What does acting (believing, feeling) from duty mean? Does it mean acting (believing, feeling) from normative reasons? And is that because normative reasons explain why the action (the belief, the emotion) in question is obligatory or right?

3.    Questions concerning the explanation of motivating reasons

- What constitutes acting or believing (or, if possible, feeling emotions) for a reason?

- Does being moved by a reason come with cognitive requirements? E.g. does it require a normative judgment or inference on the part of the agent? Do agents who are moved by reasons have to be aware of themselves as moved by those reasons?

- Are motivating reasons psychological entities (e.g. belief-desire-pairs), or are they their own kind of thing (as they would be in an agent-causal framework)?

4.    Questions concerning the explanatory role of motivating reasons

- Which attitudes (believing, intending, emotions,...) can we have for reasons?

- Are explanations from motivating reasons causal explanations?

- Are explanations from motivating reasons the same in error cases, where we are mistaken about normative or descriptive facts, as they are in good cases, where everything goes as it should?

For further information, please contact ideally all of the guest editors:

[email protected]

[email protected]

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We particularly encourage members of underrepresented groups in philosophy to submit. The deadline for submissions is October 31st, 2024.

Submissions via:

Please select the topical collection "T.C.: Reasons and Explanation" from the drop down menu when submitting your paper.

When preparing your paper, please read the journal’s ‘Instructions for authors’ at

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