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Having Reasons

People on FI were discussing having reasons for things and saying it was justificationist and you should only worry about whether there is a negative problem with something, not a positive reason for something.

If someone asks why you're doing something, that isn't bad. It's good to have some concept of what you're doing, and why. What problem are you trying to solve and how will this solve it?

If you can't answer – if you can't say any reasons for what you're doing – prima facie there is a criticism there. Why don't you know in words what's going on? Why are you choosing to do it?

This is not unanswerable. But you should have an answer. If you can't say any reasons for what you're doing and you also don't have an answer to why you're doing it anyway (to address the kinda default well known criticism that knowing what problem you're trying to solve and how this will solve it is generally a pretty good idea), then that's bad. You should either have a reason you can say, or a reason to do it without a reason you can say.

If you can't say a reason to do it without a reason which you can say, what about a reason for doing it without that? Whatever you don't have, you could have a reason for doing it despite not having that.

The point is, you ought to be able to say something of some sort. If you can't, there is a criticism – that you have no idea what you're doing. (If you can argue against that – if you do have some idea what you're doing – then you could have said that info in the first place when questioned.)

I'm not convinced the quotes are substantively justificationist. And I'm really not convinced by like, "Don't ask reasons for doing stuff, only point out criticisms." Doing stuff for no reason is a criticism. In general people ought to do stuff to solve problems, and have some concept of how doing this will solve a problem they want to solve. If they aren't doing that, that isn't necessarily bad but they should have some idea of why it makes sense to do something else in this case.

You can't even criticize stuff in the usual way if you don't know what their goal is. You normally criticize stuff by whether it solves the problem it's aiming to. But if you don't know what they are aiming for, then you can't criticize in the normal way of pointing out a difference between the results you think they'll get and the results they are aiming for.

And if they can tell you a goal, or a problem they want to solve, then they do have a reason for doing it. They are doing it to accomplish that goal / solve that problem.

Elliot Temple on February 28, 2016

Comments (4)

> If you can't say a reason to do it without a reason you can say, then what about a reason for doing it doing it without a reason you can say or a reason for doing it without a reason you can say?

come again bro. I just can't parse that sentence

Anonymous at 3:09 AM on February 29, 2016 | #4977
Oops sorry I was trying to fix that sentence in editing, didn't finish, and forgot. I've edited the post.

curi at 8:30 AM on February 29, 2016 | #4979
The evaluation after "Positive reason for" is not logically related to it. Pointing out a problem you are solving does not give a positive reason for anything, it merely includes the person asking in the critical process. It seem to me that if someone is doing an action and they have no idea what it is they are doing (which I guess rarely happens), at the time of asking, will usually confabulate an answer (like sleepwalkers, or people with short-term memory loss). Very rarely, unless they are being secretive or think it is none of your business, will they say nothing, or respond "no reason". All actions involve problem solving, you cannot not do this.

All we can do is try to make our problem solving more open to criticism by articulating the problems and our solutions for them to others and to ourselves. This we agree on.

"And if they can tell you a goal, or a problem they want to solve, then they do have a reason for doing it. They are doing it to accomplish that goal / solve that problem."

This is not a "positive reason for" doing it; it is an explanation they are opening up to criticism.

Anonymous at 10:03 PM on March 25, 2016 | #5092
> The evaluation after "Positive reason for"

You mean the entire post? That's at the start. I have no idea what you're referring to.

> is not logically related to it.

this sounds like you disagree with the post, but it's vague. and from reading the rest of the text, i don't know what you disagree with or why.

> "And if they can tell you a goal, or a problem they want to solve, then they do have a reason for doing it. They are doing it to accomplish that goal / solve that problem."

when don't use quote marks, your text doesn't get a special color and is hard to read.

> This is not a "positive reason for" doing it; it is an explanation they are opening up to criticism.

i think you're arguing definitions instead of dealing with the point?

Anonymous at 11:35 PM on March 25, 2016 | #5094

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)