Although the study of reasons plays an important role in both epistemology and moral philosophy, little attention has been devoted to the question of how, exactly, reasons interact to support the actions or conclusions they do. In this book, John F. Horty attempts to answer this question by providing a precise, concrete account of reasons and their interaction, based on the logic of default reasoning. The book begins with an intuitive, accessible introduction to default logic itself, and then argues that this logic can be adapted to serve as a foundation for a concrete theory of reasons. Horty then shows that the resulting theory helps to explain how the interplay among reasons can determine what we ought to do by developing two different deontic logics, capturing two different intuitions about moral conflicts. In the central part of the book, Horty elaborates the basic theory to account for reasoning about the strength of our own reasons, and also about the related concepts of undercutting defeaters and exclusionary reasons. The theory is illustrated with an application to particularist arguments concerning the role of principles in moral theory.
The book concludes by introducing a pair of issues new to the philosophical literature: the problem of determining the epistemic status of conclusions supported by separate but conflicting reasons, and the problem of drawing conclusions from sets of reasons that can vary arbitrarily in strength, or importance.