Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew I. Cohen - Co-Chair

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew Altman - Co-Chair

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew J. Cohen

Fourth Advisor

Dr. William Edmundson


Joseph Raz has developed a concept of authority based on the special relationship between reasons and action. While the view is very complex and subtle, it can be summed up by saying that authorities are authorities insofar as they can mediate between the reasons that happen to bind their subjects and the subjects’ actions. Authorities do this by providing special reasons via directives to their subjects. These special reasons are what Raz calls “protected reasons.” Protected reasons are both first-order reasons for action and second-order “exclusionary reasons” that exclude the subject from considering some reasons in the balance of reasons for or against any action. I first make clear what Raz’s view of authority is, and I then defend this view from some contemporary critics.

Included in

Philosophy Commons