Truls Wyller: Reasons and Objective Causes. Non-Naturalist Reflections on the Participant/Observer Distinction

The article’s point of departure is Hans Skjervheim’s distinction between objective observer and subjective participant attitudes, a distinction to which a duality of causal and reason explanation is often thought to correspond. I defend the anti-naturalist import of the distinction, arguing that reasons for belief and action resist ontological identification with objective causes. Considering the contrast between object dependent truth and subject dependent reasoning and rationality, I first sketch a «transcendental» view on the abstract and irreducibly practical nature of reasons. This view is confirmed by recent theories of normative and motivating reasons. I proceed with some Wittgensteinian reflections on explaining reasons to the effect that in a basic sense they are not possible objects of propositional truth. They may instantiate a formal, subjective variant of causality however, and the resulting position is called transcendental epiphenomenalism.

Keywords: Hans Skjervheim, naturalism, action, truth, states of affairs, normative, motivating and explaining reasons, causality, transcendental ego