39 books like Reasons as Defaults

By John F. Horty,

Here are 39 books that Reasons as Defaults fans have personally recommended if you like Reasons as Defaults. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of The Moral Problem

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

There are a lot of great books about metaethics and a lot of great books about reasons, but this book nabs my top recommendation because Smith makes the topics so deceptively easy to get into and start thinking about. This is the book that I wrote my undergraduate senior thesis on that got me into studying and writing about philosophy for a living, and it is also one of the key books that everyone in my generation in my field grew up thinking about and reacting to. It also has a great balance between an overarching project that spans all of the chapters and some pretty self-contained discussions, especially in the earlier chapters, that helps the reader to focus on one question at a time while also getting a glimpse of how philosophical questions can add up to something bigger.

By Michael Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moral Problem as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This acclaimed volume offers a systematic introduction to and striking analysis of the central issues animating current debate in moral philosophy. It will be of interest to anyone with a serious interest in the philosophical foundations of ethics. Topics discussed in this book include: realist vs anti-realist accounts of moral truth; cognitivist vs expressivist accounts of moral judgement; internalist vs externalist accounts of the relation between moral judgement and the will; Humean vs anti-Humean theories of motivation; and the debate between those who think that morality is a system of hypothetical imperatives and those who think that moral requirements are…


Book cover of The Sources of Normativity

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Korsgaard makes really forceful the question of what it is that gives morality any authority over us. She divides and surveys the space of possible answers to this question, and develops an incredibly ambitious answer that draws extensively on her interpretation of the historical philosopher Immanuel Kant and makes Kant’s own views intelligible in contemporary terms. It nabs my second recommendation not only because it is gripping and relatively easy to get into, but because, like my top recommendation, of the formative role that it has played for so many contemporary philosophers of my generation, for whom it set the standard of what questions needed to be asked and answered, and what the space of tools might be for trying to answer them.

By Christine M. Korsgaard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sources of Normativity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us - or ours over one another - come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical…


Book cover of Ethics Without Principles

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

In this book, Dancy defends the thesis that he calls Ethical Particularism, according to which there is no or virtually no important role for moral rules or principles to play either in moral explanation or in moral understanding. But more importantly, in my view, along the way he lays out in clear and persuasive terms what a powerful explanatory role reasons play in ethical theory. I include it third on my list because the idea that reasons are fundamental and explanatory of everything that has to do with morality and other forms of evaluation has come to be very important in contemporary philosophy, but I think before my own book, this is the work that has articulated this thought the most powerfully and explicitly.

By Jonathan Dancy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ethics Without Principles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jonathan Dancy presents a long-awaited exposition and defence of particularism in ethics, a view with which he has been associated for twenty years. He argues that the traditional link between morality and principles, or between being moral and having principles, is little more than a mistake. The possibility of moral thought and judgement does not in any way depend on an adequate supply of principles. Dancy grounds this claim on a form of reasons-holism, holding
that what is a reason in one case need not be any reason in another, and maintaining that moral reasons are no different in this…


Book cover of What We Owe to Each Other

Mark Schroeder Author Of Reasons First

From my list on reasons in ethics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Schroeder is the author of six books and nearly one hundred articles in philosophy, many of them concerned with the role of reasons in metaethics and moral explanations. Three of his articles have been honored by the Philosophers’ Annual as among the ten best philosophy articles published in their year, and one received the APA article prize as the best paper published in all of philosophy in 2008 or 2009. His former Ph.D. students now teach philosophy on five continents.

Mark's book list on reasons in ethics

Mark Schroeder Why did Mark love this book?

Featured prominently in the plot of the NBC comedy The Good Place, Scanlon’s 1998 book covers much more than reasons and metaethics – it offers an ambitious explanatory theory of where our moral obligations to one another come from, and why they have the particular shape that they do – including of why we can’t justify doing terrible things to someone just because it benefits many other people. But in the first two chapters of the book, Scanlon also offers a large range of important and influential arguments about the nature of reasons and their relationship to both desire and value, and those two chapters in their own right merit this book a place on this list, in addition to its many other virtues.

By T.M. Scanlon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What We Owe to Each Other as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How do we judge whether an action is morally right or wrong? If an action is wrong, what reason does that give us not to do it? Why should we give such reasons priority over our other concerns and values? In this book, T. M. Scanlon offers new answers to these questions, as they apply to the central part of morality that concerns what we owe to each other. According to his contractualist view, thinking about right and wrong is thinking about what we do in terms that could be justified to others and that they could not reasonably reject.…


Book cover of Knowledge and Lotteries

Timothy Williamson Author Of Philosophical Method: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on contemporary epistemology and metaphysics.

Why am I passionate about this?

Timothy Williamson is a professor of philosophy at Oxford University and a visiting professor at Yale. He writes on metaphysics and epistemology because he doesn’t know how not to care about them. Metaphysics asks fundamental questions about what reality is and how it is structured; epistemology asks fundamental questions about what and how we can know about reality.

Timothy's book list on contemporary epistemology and metaphysics

Timothy Williamson Why did Timothy love this book?

If you buy a lottery ticket, it is very probable that it will lose, but you do not know that it will lose, otherwise you might as well throw it away. The book uses such simple examples to think very deeply about the nature of knowledge and the way common sense knowledge is threatened by chance. It critically assesses the idea that what we mean by the word ‘know’ depends on the context in which we are speaking, and explores the subtly different idea that whether you know something can depend on how much practical difference it makes to you. John Hawthorne is one of the most acute and perceptive of contemporary epistemologists.

By John Hawthorne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knowledge and Lotteries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Knowledge and Lotteries is organized around an epistemological puzzle: in many cases, we seem consistently inclined to deny that we know certain propositions, while crediting ourselves with knowledge of propositions that imply them. In its starkest form, the puzzle is this: we do not think we know that a given lottery ticket will be a loser, yet we normally count ourselves as knowing all sorts of things which entail that its holder will not suddenly acquire
a large fortune. After providing a number of specific and general characterizations of the puzzle, Hawthorne carefully examines the competing merits of candidate solutions,…


Book cover of Emotional: How Feelings Shape Our Thinking

Dan Hill Author Of Two Cheers for Democracy: How Emotions Drive Leadership Style

From my list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk.

Why am I passionate about this?

My family moved to Italy when I was six, and I attended Italian first grade in a fishing village where I had to rely on reading body language as I didn’t grasp the language for a bit. Fortunately for me, Italians have lots of body language to read so I could navigate the inevitable cliques and power dynamics evident even at the elementary school level. From that experience to being taken to view the Dachau concentration camp a year later, I’ve always been sensitive to how “the other” gets treated—often unfairly—and the role leaders can play for good or evil.

Dan's book list on the heart of leaders when democracy is at risk

Dan Hill Why did Dan love this book?

Armed with the latest findings in neurobiology, the author explores how profoundly emotions drive our behavior and “thinking.” Why the air quotes around the word, thinking? The answer is that fMRI brain scan data reveals that most decision-making is basically emotionally driven, intuitive, and super quick, i.e. under a second.

By Leonard Mlodinow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Emotional as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

You make hundreds of decisions every day, from what to eat for breakfast to how to influence people, and not one of them could be made without the essential component of emotion. It has long been held that thinking and feeling are separate and opposing forces in our behaviour. But as best-selling author Leonard Mlodinow tells us, extraordinary advances in psychology and neuroscience have proven that emotions are as critical to our well being as thinking.

How can you connect better with others? How can you improve your relationship to frustration, fear, and anxiety? What can you do to live…


Book cover of Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain

Daryl Weber Author Of Brand Seduction: How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands

From my list on to help you understand the mind of your customer.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since I was young, I was fascinated with how the mind works; how all of our thoughts, feelings, memories, decisions, and actions come out of this lump of flesh in our heads. I studied consciousness, psychology, and neuroscience both at university, and on my own for decades. Once I started working in marketing, for many of the biggest and best brands in the world, I realized that marketers tend to have deep misconceptions and misunderstandings for how the mind actually works. My goal is to bridge the gap between all of the knowledge we have about the brain, and how that could be helpful to brands and marketers. 

Daryl's book list on to help you understand the mind of your customer

Daryl Weber Why did Daryl love this book?

The work of Dr. Damasio was foundational in building my understanding of how human emotions work, and their role in human actions and decision making. This book explores Damasio’s work in detail, giving a rich understanding of human emotions – and how they are not frivolous things but actually core to how humans act and behave. 

By Antonio Damasio,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Descartes' Error as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the centuries since Descartes famously proclaimed, 'I think, therefore I am,' science has often overlooked emotions as the source of a person's true being. Even modern neuroscience has tended until recently to concentrate on the cognitive aspects of brain function, disregarding emotions. This attitude began to change with the publication of Descartes' Error. Antonio Damasio challenged traditional ideas about the connection between emotions and rationality. In this wonderfully engaging book, Damasio takes the reader on a journey of scientific discovery through a series of case studies, demonstrating what many of us have long suspected: emotions are not a luxury,…


Book cover of Enchanted America: How Intuition and Reason Divide Our Politics

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Author Of Wrong: How Media, Politics, and Identity Drive Our Appetite for Misinformation

From my list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of communication and political science who’s been researching and publishing on the effects of political media on democratic health for 25 years. More recently, I’ve been trying to understand the roots of inter-party hostility, the drop in trust in institutions, and the rise in Americans’ belief in breathtakingly false information. My hope is that through this selection of books, you’ll start to understand the synergistic dynamics between America’s complicated history with race, changes in America’s parties, media, and culture, and various social psychological processes, and maybe even start to see a way out of this mess.

Dannagal's book list on understanding identity-driven wrongness in the United States

Dannagal Goldthwaite Young Why did Dannagal love this book?

I always tell my students that one thing that I love about being a social scientist is that it’s as much art as it is science. Oliver and Wood exemplify the creative side of social psychology as they study how people are intuitionists or rationalists.

My favorite part is the questions that they designed to measure whether people are “magical thinkers,” that is, are they more concerned about symbolic harm than actual harm: “Would you rather stick your hands in a bowl of cockroaches or stab a photo of your family six times?”

I like to think of myself as rational, but there’s no way you could make me stab a photo of my family! I’ll take the cockroaches, thank you…

By J. Eric Oliver, Thomas J. Wood,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enchanted America as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

America is in civic chaos, its politics rife with conspiracy theories and false information. Nationalism and authoritarianism are on the rise, while scientists, universities, and news organizations are viewed with increasing mistrust. Its citizens reject scientific evidence on climate change and vaccinations while embracing myths of impending apocalypse. And then there is Donald Trump, a presidential candidate who won the support of millions of conservative Christians despite having no moral or political convictions. What is going on?

The answer, according to J. Eric Oliver and Thomas J. Wood, can be found in the most important force shaping American politics today:…


Book cover of The Age of American Unreason

Joel Stein Author Of In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book

From my list on saving democracy from populism.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started worrying about populism in 2008, when vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin chastised the elitists, whom she defined as “people who think they’re better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, she thought she was so much better than anyone else that she could serve as backup leader of the world despite the fact that she believed that the political leader of the United Kingdom is the queen. After she lost she vowed, “I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist.” She was unaware that there is a third option: to study so that you know more than the next person. 

Joel's book list on saving democracy from populism

Joel Stein Why did Joel love this book?

If you’ve ever wondered if people today are dumber than people in the past, you should watch Idiocracy. And then read this book. It shows how we’ve devolved into people who look at lists of the best five books and never actually read those books. In 2008, for a column for the L.A. Times, I had her take a quiz from the author of the book How Dumb Are You?: The Great American Stupidity Quiz and she got two wrong. I got 11 wrong. The point is: Read her book instead of mine.

By Susan Jacoby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Age of American Unreason as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A cultural history of the last forty years, The Age of American Unreasonfocuses on the convergence of social forces—usually treated as separate entities—that has created a perfect storm of anti-rationalism. These include the upsurge of religious fundamentalism, with more political power today than ever before; the failure of public education to create an informed citizenry; and the triumph of video over print culture. Sparing neither the right nor the left, Jacoby asserts that Americans today have embraced a universe of “junk thought” that makes almost no effort to separate fact from opinion.


Book cover of As a Man Thinketh

Stephen McGarvey Author Of Ignite a Shift: Engaging Minds, Guiding Emotions and Driving Behavior

From my list on the power of ideas and positive thinking.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t always a reader. Diagnosed with a learning disorder in elementary school, I hated reading and school. Eventually, I discovered my passion for psychology, neurolinguistics, and persuasion and influence, and have now become a lifelong reader! Through my boutique consulting firm Solutions In Mind, my colleagues and I have been coaching executive teams to make the changes required to improve sales, organizational behavior, and communication. In my latest book, Ignite a Shift, I equip readers to think about how they and those around them think, feel and do. With greater awareness you’ll be able to better establish and meet your goals and persuade and influence others to do the same. 

Stephen's book list on the power of ideas and positive thinking

Stephen McGarvey Why did Stephen love this book?

Although this book is more than a century old, I find it just as relevant today as it was when it was first published. As a Man Thinketh offers digestible and easily understood tips to transform the way you look at barriers in life and positively embrace them. Each person holds the key to their own happiness and by dealing with thoughts intelligently and patiently, can help reconstruct life for the better. 

By James Allen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked As a Man Thinketh as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THIS little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that “They themselves are makers of themselves.” …by virtue of the thoughts, which they choose and encourage; that mind is the master-weaver, both of the inner garment of character and the outer garment of circumstance, and that, as they may have hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in reason, logical reasoning, and rationalism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about reason, logical reasoning, and rationalism.

Reason Explore 9 books about reason
Logical Reasoning Explore 9 books about logical reasoning
Rationalism Explore 17 books about rationalism