PhilPapers is currently in read-only mode while we are performing some maintenance. You can use the site normally except that you cannot sign in. This shouldn't last long.
About this topic
Summary The central question about desire and reason concerns the extent to which our reasons to act depend on our desires. According to ‘desire-based’ or ‘Humean’ theories of reasons, all of our reasons to act depend on our desires. On a simple version of such a theory, we have reason to do only what would serve one of our present desires. Many philosophers have found such theories attractive, insofar as they connect our reasons with our motivations, or insofar as they seem to make metaphysical and epistemological questions about reasons more tractable. But many other philosophers have found such theories unattractive, often on the grounds that they seem to threaten the rational authority of morality.
Key works A great deal of the recent literature has focused on Bernard Williams’ defence of his ‘internal reasons’ theory, a version of the desire-based theory, in his Williams 1979. Some central contributions to the literature on Williams’ view are Korsgaard 1986McDowell 1995, and Parfit 1997. There is also a lot of recent literature arguing against desire-based theories of reasons. See, for instance, Darwall 1983, Korsgaard 1997, Nagel 1970Scanlon 1998Parfit 2011. For a recent defence of a desire-based theory, see Schroeder 2007.
Introductions Finlay & Schroeder 2008Wiland 2012: ch.2
  Show all references
Related categories
Siblings:
134 found
Search inside:
(import / add options)   Sort by:
1 — 50 / 134
  1. Lydia B. Amir (2014). The Value of Dissatisfaction – Maintaining the Tension That Unites Desires and Reason. Axiology and Ethics:46-57.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  2. Adrian Archer, The Rational Significance of Desire.
    My dissertation addresses the question "do desires provide reasons?" I present two independent lines of argument in support of the conclusion that they do not. The first line of argument emerges from the way I circumscribe the concept of a desire. Complications aside, I conceive of a desire as a member of a family of attitudes that have imperative content, understood as content that displays doability-conditions rather than truth-conditions. Moreover, I hold that an attitude may provide reasons only if it (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  3. Steven Arkonovich (2001). Defending Desire: Scanlon's Anti-Humeanism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 63 (3):499-519.
    In the opening chapter of What We Owe To Each Other, Tim Scanlon produces a sustained critique of a Humean conception of practical reason. Scanlon claims he will argue that unless having a desire just is to see something as a reason, desires play no role in the explanation or justification of action. Yet his specific arguments against Humeanism all employ a very austere understanding of desire , and attempt to show that desires so understood are not up to any (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (10 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  4. Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder (2014). In Praise of Desire. OUP.
    Joining the debate over the roles of reason and appetite in the moral mind, In Praise of Desire takes the side of appetite. Acting for moral reasons, acting in a praiseworthy manner, and acting out of virtue are simply acting out of intrinsic desires for the right or the good.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  5. Nomy Arpaly & Timothy Schroeder (2014). Précis of In Praise of Desire. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 (2):490-495.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  6. Robert Audi (2002). Prospects for a Naturalization of Practical Reason: Humean Instrumentalism and the Normative Authority of Desire. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 10 (3):235 – 263.
    This is an age of naturalization projects. Much epistemological work has been done toward naturalizing theoretical reason. One might view Hume as seeking to naturalize reason in both the theoretical (roughly, epistemological) and the practical realms. I suggest that whatever else underlies the vitality of Hume's instrumentalism - encapsulated in his view that 'reason is and ought only to be the slave of the passions' - one incentive is the hope of naturalizing practical reason. This paper explores some broadly Humean (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  7. Robert Audi (1974). Thomas Nagel, The Possibility of Altruism. [REVIEW] Metaphilosophy 5:242.
  8. Annette Baier (1986). The Ambiguous Limits of Desire. In J. Marks (ed.), The Ways of Desire. Precedent 39--61.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  9. Melissa Barry (2010). Humean Theories of Motivation. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics , Volume 5. Oxford University Press 195-223.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  10. Melissa Barry (2010). Slaves of the Passions by Mark Schroeder. [REVIEW] Hume Studies 36 (2):225–228.
    In Slaves of the Passions, Mark Schroeder provides a systematic, rigorously argued defense of a Humean theory of reasons for action, taking pains to respond to influential objections to the view. While inspired by Hume, Schroeder makes it clear that he aims to develop a Humean theory, not necessarily one that Hume himself embraced, and for this reason little is said about Hume in the book. One respect in which Schroeder takes himself to be departing from Hume is in developing (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  11. Melissa Barry (2007). Realism, Rational Action, and the Humean Theory of Motivation. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 10 (3):231-242.
    Realists about practical reasons agree that judgments regarding reasons are beliefs. They disagree, however, over the question of how such beliefs motivate rational action. Some adopt a Humean conception of motivation, according to which beliefs about reasons must combine with independently existing desires in order to motivate rational action; others adopt an anti-Humean view, according to which beliefs can motivate rational action in their own right, either directly or by giving rise to a new desire that in turn motivates the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  12. Peter Brian Barry (2007). Sergio Tenenbaum, Appearances of the Good: An Essay on the Nature of Practical Reason:Appearances of the Good: An Essay on the Nature of Practical Reason. Ethics 118 (1):181-184.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  13. Piers Benn (2000). Ruling Passions by Simon Blackburn Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998, X + 334pp. [REVIEW] Philosophy 75 (3):452-462.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  14. Simon Blackburn (2000). Humanity's Natural Face. Philosophical Explorations 3 (3):282 – 296.
    In my article I summarize a 'Humean' view of deliberation, and in particular deliberation with an ethical aspect. I regard Hume as having paved the way for a 'naturalistic' account of these things, avoiding Kantian fantasies of agency that dominate much current work. Contrary to what is often supposed, the Humean story gives a satisfactory account of dutiful or principled motivations, and a rich account of the ways in which different aspects of character are selected as 'useful or agreeable to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  15. Simon Blackburn (1995). Practical Tortoise Raising. Mind 104 (416):695-711.
    In this paper I am not so much concerned with movements of the mind, as movements of the will. But my question bears a similarity to that of the tortoise. I want to ask whether the will is under the control of fact and reason, combined. I shall try to show that there is always something else, something that is not under the control of fact and reason, which has to be given as a brute extra, if deliberation is ever (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  16. Matthew Boyle & Douglas Lavin (2010). Goodness and Desire. In Sergio Tenenbaum (ed.), Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good. Oxford University Press 161--201.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  17. Michael E. Bratman (2003). A Desire of One's Own. Journal of Philosophy 100 (5):221-42.
    You can sometimes have and be moved by desires which you in some sense disown. The problem is whether we can make sense of these ideas of---as I will say---ownership and rejection of a desire, without appeal to a little person in the head who is looking on at the workings of her desires and giving the nod to some but not to others. Frankfurt's proposed solution to this problem, sketched in his 1971 article, has come to be called the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  18. Michael E. Bratman (1990). Dretske's Desires. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 50 (4):795-800.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  19. David O. Brink (1997). Moral Motivation. Ethics 108 (1):4-32.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  20. John Broome (1997). Reasons and Motivation: John Broome. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 71 (1):131–146.
    Derek Parfit takes an externalist and cognitivist view about normative reasons. I shall explore this view and add some arguments that support it. But I shall also raise a doubt about it at the end.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  21. Donald Bruckner (2011). Second-Order Preferences and Instrumental Rationality. Acta Analytica 26 (4):367-385.
    A second-order preference is a preference over preferences. This paper addresses the role that second-order preferences play in a theory of instrumental rationality. I argue that second-order preferences have no role to play in the prescription or evaluation of actions aimed at ordinary ends. Instead, second-order preferences are relevant to prescribing or evaluating actions only insofar as those actions have a role in changing or maintaining first-order preferences. I establish these claims by examining and rejecting the view that second-order preferences (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  22. Giuseppe Butera (2012). Lombardo, Nicholas E. The Logic of Desire: Aquinas on Emotion. Review of Metaphysics 65 (4):879-881.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  23. K. Bykvist (2012). Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good * Edited by Sergio Tenenbaum. Analysis 72 (1):200-202.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (9 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  24. David K. Chan (ed.) (2008). Moral Psychology Today: Essays on Values, Rational Choice, and the Will. Springer Verlag.
    This volume is an edited collection of original papers on the theme of Values, Rational Choice, and the Will.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  25. Philip Clark (2010). Aspects, Guises, Species and Knowing Something to Be Good. In Sergio Tenenbaum (ed.), Desire, Practical Reason, and the Good. Oxford University Press 234.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  26. Philip Clark (2001). Velleman's Autonomism. Ethics 111 (3):580–593.
    People sometimes think they have reasons for action. On a certain naive view, what makes them true is a connection between the action and the agent’s good life. In a recent article, David Velleman argues for replacing this view with a more Kantian line, on which reasons are reasons in virtue of their connection with autonomy. The aim in what follows is to defend the naive view. I shall first raise some problems for Velleman's proposal and then fend off the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  27. Garrett Cullity & Berys Nigel Gaut (eds.) (1997). Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford University Press.
    These thirteen new, specially written essays by a distinguished international line-up of contributors, including some leading contemporary moral philosophers, give a rich and varied view of current work on ethics and practical reason. The three main perspectives on the topic, Kantian, Humean, and Aristotelian, are all well represented. Issues covered include: the connection between reason and motivation; the source of moral reasons and their relation to reasons of self-interest; the relation of practical reason to value, to freedom, to responsibility, and (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  28. Jonathan Dancy (1993). Moral Reasons. Blackwell.
    This book attempts to place a realist view of ethics (the claim that there are facts of the matter in ethics as elsewhere) within a broader context. It starts with a discussion of why we should mind about the difference between right and wrong, asks what account we should give of our ability to learn from our moral experience, and looks in some detail at the different sorts of ways in which moral reasons can combine to show us what we (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  29. Stephen Darwall (2003). Desires, Reasons, and Causes. [REVIEW] Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2):436–443.
    Jonathan Dancy’s Practical Reality makes a significant contribution to clarifying the relationship between desire and reasons for acting, both the normative reasons we seek in deliberation and the motivating reasons we cite in explanation. About the former, Dancy argues that, not only are normative reasons not all grounded in desires, but, more radically, the fact that one desires something is never itself a normative reason. And he argues that desires fail to figure in motivating reasons also, concluding that neither the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (9 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  30. Stephen L. Darwall (2001). Because I Want It. Social Philosophy and Policy 18 (2):129-153.
    How can an agent's desire or will give him reasons for acting? Not long ago, this might have seemed a silly question, since it was widely believed that all reasons for acting are based in the agent's desires. The interesting question, it seemed, was not how what an agent wants could give him reasons, but how anything else could. In recent years, however, this earlier orthodoxy has increasingly appeared wrongheaded as a growing number of philosophers have come to stress the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  31. Stephen L. Darwall (1983). Impartial Reason. Cornell University Press.
  32. Heiner F. Klemme Dieter Schönecker & Manfred Kuehn (eds.) (2006). “Practical Reason and Motivational Scepticism”, in Heiner F. Klemme, Manfred Kuehn, Dieter Schönecker, Eds., Moralische Motivation. Kant Und Die Alternativen. Kant-Forschungen. [REVIEW] Felix Meiner Verlag.
  33. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). Where Do Preferences Come From? International Journal of Game Theory 42 (3):613-637.
    Rational choice theory analyzes how an agent can rationally act, given his or her preferences, but says little about where those preferences come from. Preferences are usually assumed to be fixed and exogenously given. Building on related work on reasons and rational choice, we describe a framework for conceptualizing preference formation and preference change. In our model, an agent's preferences are based on certain "motivationally salient" properties of the alternatives over which the preferences are held. Preferences may change as new (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  34. Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2013). A Reason-Based Theory of Rational Choice. Noûs 47 (1):104-134.
    There is a surprising disconnect between formal rational choice theory and philosophical work on reasons. The one is silent on the role of reasons in rational choices, the other rarely engages with the formal models of decision problems used by social scientists. To bridge this gap, we propose a new, reason-based theory of rational choice. At its core is an account of preference formation, according to which an agent’s preferences are determined by his or her motivating reasons, together with a (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (11 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  35. Sabine Döring & Bahadir Eker (forthcoming). Desires Without Guises: Why We Need Not Value What We Want. In Julien Deonna & Federico Lauria (eds.), The Nature of Desire. Oxford University Press
    Evaluativism about desire, the view that desires just are, or necessarily involve, positive evaluations of their objects, currently enjoys widespread popularity in many philosophical circles. This chapter argues that evaluativism, in both of its doxastic and perceptual versions, overstates and mischaracterises the connection between desires and evaluations. Whereas doxastic evaluativism implausibly rules out cases where someone has a desire, despite evaluating its object negatively, being uncertain about its value, or having no doxastic attitude whatsoever towards its evaluative status at all, (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  36. James Dreier (1997). Humean Doubts About the Practical Justification of Morality. In Garrett Cullity & Gaut Berys (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford Clarendon Press 81--100.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  37. Daan Evers (2009). Humean Agent-Neutral Reasons? Philosophical Explorations 12 (1):55 – 67.
    In his recent book Slaves of the Passions , Mark Schroeder defends a Humean account of practical reasons ( hypotheticalism ). He argues that it is compatible with 'genuinely agent-neutral reasons'. These are reasons that any agent whatsoever has. According to Schroeder, they may well include moral reasons. Furthermore, he proposes a novel account of a reason's weight, which is supposed to vindicate the claim that agent-neutral reasons ( if they exist), would be weighty irrespective of anyone's desires. If the (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  38. Stephen Finlay (2009). Against All Reason? Scepticism About the Instrumental Norm. In Charles R. Pigden (ed.), Hume on Motivation and Virtue. Palgrave Macmillan
    Some of the opponents of desire-based views of normativity seek to undermine them by arguing that even the existence of instrumental normativity (reasons to pursue the means to your ends) entails the existence of a desire-independent rational norm, the instrumental norm. Once we grant the existence of one such norm, there seems to be no principled reason for not allowing others. I clarify this alleged norm, identifying two criteria that any satisfactory candidate must meet: reasonable expectation and possible violation. Some (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  39. Stephen Finlay (2009). Oughts and Ends. Philosophical Studies 143 (3):315 - 340.
    This paper advances a reductive semantics for ‘ought’ and a naturalistic theory of normativity. It gives a unified analysis of predictive, instrumental, and categorical uses of ‘ought’: the predictive ‘ought’ is basic, and is interpreted in terms of probability. Instrumental ‘oughts’ are analyzed as predictive ‘oughts’ occurring under an ‘in order that’ modifer (the end-relational theory). The theory is then extended to categorical uses of ‘ought’: it is argued that they are special rhetorical uses of the instrumental ‘ought’. Plausible conversational (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  40. Stephen Finlay (2007). Responding to Normativity. In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 2. Clarendon Press 220--39.
    I believe that normative force depends on desire. This view faces serious difficulties, however, and has yet to be vindicated. This paper sketches an Argument from Voluntary Response, attempting to establish this dependence of normativity on desire by appeal to the autonomous character of our experience of normative authority, and the voluntary character of our responses to it. I first offer an account of desiring as mentally aiming intrinsically at some end. I then argue that behaviour is only voluntary if (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  41. Stephen Finlay (2006). The Reasons That Matter. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):1 – 20.
    Bernard Williams's motivational reasons-internalism fails to capture our first-order reasons judgements, while Derek Parfit's nonnaturalistic reasons-externalism cannot explain the nature or normative authority of reasons. This paper offers an intermediary view, reformulating scepticism about external reasons as the claim not that they don't exist but rather that they don't matter. The end-relational theory of normative reasons is proposed, according to which a reason for an action is a fact that explains why the action would be good relative to some end, (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  42. Stephen Finlay & Mark Schroeder, Reasons for Action: Internal Vs. External. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Often, when there is a reason for you to do something, it is the kind of thing to motivate you to do it. For example, if Max and Caroline are deciding whether to go to the Alcove for dinner, Caroline might mention as a reason in favor, the fact that the Alcove serves onion rings the size of doughnuts, and Max might mention as a reason against, the fact that it is so difficult to get parking there this time of (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  43. Patrick Fleming (forthcoming). The Indeterminacy of Desire and Practical Reason. In David K. Chan (ed.), Moral Psychology Today: Essays on Values, Rational Choice, and the Will. Springer: Philosophical Studies Series
    Bernard Williams has famously argued that all reasons for action are internal reasons.1 The internalist requirement on reasons is that all reasons must be linked to the agent’s subjective motivational state by a sound deliberative route. This argument has been the subject of a great deal of debate. In this paper I wish to draw attention to a much less discussed aspect of Williams’ papers on internalism. Williams believes that there is an essential indeterminacy regarding what an agent has a (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  44. Danny Frederick, Adversus Homo Economicus: Critique of Lester’s Account of Instrumental Rationality.
    In Chapter 2 of Escape from Leviathan, Jan Lester defends two hypotheses: that instrumental rationality requires agents to maximise the satisfaction of their wants and that all agents actually meet this requirement. In addition, he argues that all agents are self-interested (though not necessarily egoistic) and he offers an account of categorical moral desires which entails that no agent ever does what he genuinely feels to be morally wrong. I show that Lester’s two hypotheses are false because they cannot accommodate (...)
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  45. Joshua Gert (2003). Brute Rationality. Noûs 37 (3):417–446.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  46. Alex Gregory (2013). The Guise of Reasons. American Philosophical Quarterly 50 (1):63-72.
    In this paper it is argued that we should amend the traditional understanding of the view known as the guise of the good. The guise of the good is traditionally understood as the view that we only want to act in ways that we believe to be good in some way. But it is argued that a more plausible view is that we only want to act in ways that we believe we have normative reason to act in. This change (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  47. Paul Griseri (1988). The Master of the Passions? An Examination of the Role of Reason in Action. Dissertation, University of Kent at Canterbury (United Kingdom)
    Available from UMI in association with The British Library. ;Is reason the slave of the passions? In Part I it is argued that neither the humean nor the kantian answers to this question can be maintained simpliciter. Each side of the controversy has to make significant concessions to the other. One consequence of this is that humean and kantian approaches to action are less clearly distinguished than might initially be supposed. ;In Part II several central notions are examined. The idea (...)
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  48. Elizabeth Harman (2009). I'll Be Glad I Did It" Reasoning and the Significance of Future Desires. In John Hawthorne (ed.), Ethics. Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 177-199.
    We use “I’ll be glad I did it” reasoning all the time. For example, last night I was trying to decide whether to work on this paper or go out to a movie. I realized that if I worked on the paper, then today I would be glad I did it. Whereas, if I went out to the movie, today I would regret it. This enabled me to see that I should work on the paper rather than going out to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  49. Allan Hazlett, Belief and Truth, Desire and Goodness.
    There seems to be a special relationship between belief and truth that can be metaphorically expressed by saying that belief “aims” at truth or that belief’s “direction of fit” is “to fit the world.” There is an Aristotelian thesis, according to which the special relationship between belief and truth is the same as the special relationship between desire and goodness. Assuming that belief “aims” at truth, then, desire “aims” at goodness. This contrasts with a Humean thesis, on which, while belief (...)
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  50. Joseph Heath (1997). Foundationalism and Practical Reason. Mind 106 (423):451-474.
    In this paper, I argue that Humean theories of moral motivation appear preferable to Kantian approaches only if one assumes a broadly foundationalist conception of rational justification. Like foundationalist approaches to justification generally, Humean psychology aims to counter the regress-of-justification argument by positing a set of ultimate regress-stoppers-in this case, unmotivated desires. If the need for regress-stoppers of this type in the realm of practical deliberation is accepted, desires do indeed appear to be the most likely candidate. But if this (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (12 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
1 — 50 / 134