The Authoratative Reasons Proposal states:
Authoritative Reasons Proposal: Necessarily, if a person has a moral obligation to do something, then (a) there is a moral reason for her to do it, and (b) if she is fully rational and believes she is obligated to do it or that there is a moral reason for her to do it, she takes this obligation or reason appropriately into account in deciding what to do.David Copp rejects the Authoritative Reasons Proposal. In doing so, he looks at five arguments that might be offered in its defense, and seeks to defeat each of them. (Copp, David, "Normativity, Deliberation, and Queerness" in A World Without Values: Essays on John Mackie's Moral Error Theory, (Richard Joyce and Simon Kirchin, eds.), 2010.)
I, too, reject the Authoritative Reasons Proposal. Practical ought and rationality relate actions to the reasons that an agent has. Moral ought relates actions to the reasons that an agent should have (the reasons that people generally have reason to cause people to have). Insofar as there can be a gap between the reasons an agent has and the reasons an agent should have, there can be a gap between what an agent rationally ought to do and what an agent morally ought to do.
Now, setting that aside for a moment, I want to look at Copp's response to one argument that might be offered in defense of the ARP.
This is the "Argument from Blame".
First, an agent is morally required all things considered to do something only if she would be blameworthy if she were to fail to do it, unless she had an excuse. But, second, a person is not blameworthy for doing something unless she had a good reason not to do it. . . . It follows, then, that an agent is morally required all things considered to do something only if she has reason to do it, and only if it is not the case that she has better reason not to do it.I argue that blame is a tool that is used to try to close this gap between what agents have reason to do and what agents should have reason to do. A person is blameworthy when that person acts in a way that demonstrates that this gap exists - that the reasons an agent has (that motivated the morally wrong action) are not the reasons the reasons the agent should have (which would have motivated the morally correct action).
In looking at the argument above, we need to take note of the phrase "has a reason", "had a good reason", and "has better reason". There is a distinction to be had between the reasons an agent has and the reasons she should have. "Has a reason" speaks to the reasons that the agent has. "had a good reason" or "has better reason" speaks to the reasons of quality. We need to say something about what it takes for a reason to be a good reason, or a better reason.
I would argue that, at least in the realm of morality, the quality of a reason depends on whether there are other reasons to promote it. Where people have reasons to promote a reason we may call it a good reason. Where people have even more and stronger reasons to promote a different reason, it is a better reason.
However, a more important distinction here is not about the good or better reasons an agent has, but the distinction between the reasons an agent has and those she should have.
The phrase, "An agent is morally required all things considered to do something only if she has reason to do it," is false. To say that she is morally required to do something is to say that she SHOULD HAVE reason to do it - that people generally have many and strong reasons to make it the case that she has reason to do it. However, it need not be the case that the agent actually does have the reasons she should have - the reasons that people generally have reasons to cause her to have. The agent may be immoral, which means that the reasons she has are not the reasons she should have.
Copp describes for us a gangster who has reasons to engage in criminal activity in order to obtain power and enjoyment. His moral obligation to give up a life of crime does not depend on him actually having a reason to do so (such that, if he lacks this reason, then he also lacks the obligation). It is associated with the fact that she should have reasons to do so - that he ought to have reasons to refrain from harming others and to obey the law that he currently lacks.
Going back to the Authoritative Reasons Proposal, if a person has a moral obligation to do something then it is true that there are moral reasons for her to do it, though these reasons that exist need not be reasons the agent has. And if they are not reasons that the agent has, then she can be fully rational and aware of the fact that these reasons exist but still ignore them, as a true villain would.