Public Reason: Vol. 3, No. 1, June 2011
Darwall Versus Raz on Practical Authority
Mark McBride

Recently, Stephen Darwall (2010) has offered an interesting counterexample to Joseph Raz’s (1986) influential service account of practical authority. And Raz (2010) has replied. My aim here is, principally, to better understand the principles on which Raz’s reply rests. The plan: First, I set out the particular Razian thesis to which Darwall’s counterexample is offered – the normal justification thesis (NJT) –, and present Darwall’s gloss thereon and counterexample thereto. Second, I offer a – hopefully charitable – account of Raz’s reply. This account will present two key (epistemic) principles on which Raz’s reply seemingly depends. I do not seek to adjudicate on Raz’s reply, and in this respect my aims are modest. However, given the importance of this exchange between Darwall and Raz and given the suggestive nature of Raz’s reply, simply attempting to get straight on Raz’s reply should prove to be a valuable exercise.

Key words: Stephen Darwall, Joseph Raz, practical authority.


McBride, Mark. 2011. Darwall Versus Raz on Practical Authority. Public Reason 3 (1): 73-78.