Reason Internalism

This paper defends strong internalism about reasons, the view that reasons must relate to pre-existing motivational states, from several kinds of counterexamples, supposed desire independent reasons, that have been proposed. A central distinction drawn is that between there being a reason and an agent's having a reason. For an agent to have an F reason, she must be F-minded. Reasons, as what motivate us, are states of affairs and not themselves desires or motivational states, but they must connect to existing motivational states. It has been claimed that rationality itself requires us to recognize certain reasons independent of our desires, that we acquire new desires by learning what is valuable, by acquiring desire-independent reasons to pursue certain values. It is claimed also that prudential and moral reasons are desire independent. By offering an account of rationality as coherence, by appealing to broader concerns as opposed to specific desires, and by appealing to the distinction noted above, the paper exposes weaknesses in recent arguments for desire independent reasons by Millgram, Smith, Korsgaard, and Searle. the reasons they propose can be interpreted as internal (not desire independent) or dismissed as nonexistent.
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