Desires, reasons, and causes [Book Review]
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (2):436–443 (2003)
|Abstract||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 fact nor the state of desire is ever a motivating reason for acting. I am in significant agreement with Dancy about these matters, but I want to register some reservations nonetheless. Dancy is certainly right to reject the DBR (desire-based reasons) thesis that all normative reasons are grounded in desires.1 Desires, he points out, call for reasons no less than do actions. But I think he insufficiently appreciates a way in which facts about the agent’s desires and related practical psychic states can provide normative reasons. Not that this gives away anything to Dancy’s Humean opponents. What gives an agent’s desires, values, and moral convictions normative weight, I shall suggest, is her dignity and integrity as an individual person.|
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