Thanks largely to the work of Robert Adams and Philip Quinn, the second half of the twentieth century witnessed a resurgence of interest in divine command theory as a viable position in normative theory and meta-ethics. More recently, however, there has been some dissatisfaction with divine command theory even among those philosophers who claim that normative properties are grounded in God, and as a result alternative views have begun to emerge, most notably divine intention (...)theory (Murphy, Quinn) and divine motivation theory (Zagzebski). My goal here is to outline a distinct theory, divinedesiretheory, and suggest that, even if it is not clearly superior to these extant views, it is at least worthy of serious consideration.1 As far as this paper is concerned, the discussion will be limited just to the deontic status of actions (obligatory, permissible, forbidden), and so no attempt will be made to also account for axiological properties such as goodness or evil. In order to get oriented to the range of deontological views in this area, consider the following three rough characterizations. (shrink)
To support her divine motivation theory of the good, which seeks to ground ethics in motives and emphasize the attractiveness of morality over against the compulsion of morality, Linda Zagzebski has proposed an original account of obligations which grounds them in motives. I argue that her account renders obligations objectionably person-relative and that the most promising way to avoid my criticism is to embrace something quite close to a divine command theory of obligation. This requires her (...) to combine her desired emphasis on the imitation of God with a contrasting emphasis on submission to God. I conclude that her divine motivation theory of the good, if it is to have an adequate account of obligation, is dependent on a divine will or divine command theory of obligation. (shrink)
This paper argues that Donald Davidson''s account ofassertions of evaluative judgments contains ahere-to-fore unappreciated strategy forreconciling the meta-ethical ``inconsistenttriad.'''' The inconsistency is thought to resultbecause within the framework of thebelief-desiretheory assertions of moraljudgments must have conceptual connections withboth desires and beliefs. The connection withdesires is necessary to account for theinternal connection between such judgments andmotivation to act, while the connection withbeliefs is necessary to account for theapparent objectivity of such judgments.Arguments abound that no class of utterancescan coherently (...) be understood as having suchconceptual connections to attitudes of bothsorts, hence that an inconsistency results. Buton Davidson''s account assertions of evaluativejudgments have just such connections to boththe relevant desire and a belief concerning anevaluative matter of fact. I argue that thisaccount has the resources to respond tostandard objections, and at least meritsconsideration as one among other plausiblealternatives. (shrink)
Describes the outlines of a computational explication of the belief–desiretheory of emotion, a variant of cognitive emotion theory. According to the proposed explication, a core subset of emotions including surprise are nonconceptual products of hardwired mechanisms whose primary function is to subserve the monitoring and updating of the central representational system of humans, the belief–desire system. The posited emotion-producing mechanisms are analogous to sensory transducers; however, instead of sensing the world, they sense the state of (...) the belief–desire system and signal important changes in this system, in particular the fulfillment and frustration of desires and the confirmation and disconfirmation of beliefs. Because emotions represent this information about the state of the representational system in a nonconceptual format, emotions are nonconceptual metarepresentations. It is argued that this theory of emotions provides for a deepened understanding of the role of emotions in cognitive systems and solves several problems of psychological emotion theory. (shrink)
Based on the belief that computational modeling (thinking in terms of representation and computations) can help to clarify controversial issues in emotion theory, this article examines emotional experience from the perspective of the Computational Belief–DesireTheory of Emotion (CBDTE), a computational explication of the belief–desiretheory of emotion. It is argued that CBDTE provides plausible answers to central explanatory challenges posed by emotional experience, including: the phenomenal quality,intensity and object-directedness of emotional experience, the function of (...) emotional experience and its relation to cognition and motivation, and the relation between emotional experience and emotion. In addition, CBDTE avoids most objections that have been raised against cognitive theories of emotion. A remaining objection, that beliefs are not necessary for the emotions covered by CBDTE, is rejected as empirically unsupported. (shrink)
Due largely to the work of Mark Murphy and Philip Quinn, divine will theory has emerged as a legitimate alternative to divine command theory in recent years. As an initial characterization, divine will theory is a view of deontological properties according to which, for instance, an agent S‟s obligation to perform action A in circumstances C is grounded in God‟s will that S A in C. Characterized this abstractly, divine will theory does (...) not specify which kind of mental state is supposed to ground S‟s obligation; it could be God‟s desires, beliefs, intentions, or emotions. My purpose here is not to challenge this view. Rather, I want to examine the decision by Murphy and Quinn to base their version of divine will theory on God‟s intentions, and argue that this may have been an unwise move. As an alternative, I suggest that those who are initially attracted to divine will theory would be better served to develop the view with a focus on God‟s desires rather than intentions. (shrink)
One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one’s desires provide one with reasons to act. On the value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories about two other issues: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about (...) either pleasure or welfare commits one to recognizing that desires do provide reasons for action – i.e., commits one to abandoning the value-based theory of reasons. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is not so. All of the following can be true: pleasure and welfare provide reasons; pleasure and welfare are to be understood in terms of desire; desires never provide reasons, in the relevant way. (shrink)
The experience of being in love involves a longing for union with the other, where an important part of this longing is sexual desire. But what is the relation between being in love and sexual desire? To answer this it must first be seen that the expression ‘in love’ normally refers to a personal relationship. This is because to be ‘in love’ is to want to be loved back. This much would be predicted by equity and social exchange (...) theories of interpersonal attraction. Findings suggest however that love differs fundamentally from liking and, consequently, distinct approaches to the theory of love have been developed. A phenomenological theory is then put forward which suggests that the experience of being in love involves a complex of desires for reciprocal vulnerability in order to care and be cared for. Sexual desire is then seen to involve the physical expression of these desires in the form of desires for mutual baring in order to caress and be caressed. Unlike love, however, sexual desire need not refer to the other person's desires. This is supported by the existence of sexual desires like fetishism. It is concluded that other desires which often appear in instances of being in love are not basic to the experience of being in love. (shrink)
Natural theology is still practiced as though substantive theological conclusions can be derived by a quasi-deductive process. Perhaps relevant "evidence" may lead to interesting theological conclusions -- the fact of natural evil, or the cosmic fine-tuning we hear about in contemporary cosmology, both cry out for theological explanation. I remain a skeptic, however, about the value of "a priori" methods in natural theology. The case study in this short discussion is the well known attempt to establish the logical incoherence of (...) the divine command theory of moral objectivity. If skeptics can make good on this charge, they will have gone a long way toward undercutting a central tenant of western theism. I will argue, however, that the case against theologically based moral absolutism is not as simple as showing some internal paradox or logical tension. (shrink)
In a 2002 paper for this journal, Richard Joyce presents three new arguments against the Divine Command Theory. In this comment, I attempt to show that each of these arguments is either unpersuasive or uninteresting. Two of Joyce’s arguments are unpersuasive because they rely on an implausible principle or an implausible claim about what counts as a platitude governing use of the term “wrong.” Joyce’s other argument is uninteresting because it is persuasive only if Joyce’s formulation of the (...) Euthyphro Problem is persuasive. However, Joyce argues that the Euthyphro Problem is not persuasive. Therefore, if Joyce is correct about this, then his own objection to the Divine Command Theory is not persuasive either. (shrink)
The simplest Divine Command Theory is one which identifies rightness with being commanded or willed by God. Two clear and appealing arguments for this theory turn on the idea that laws require a lawgiver, and the idea that God is sovereign or omnipotent. Critical examination of these arguments reveals some fundamental principles at odds with the Divine Command Theory, and yields some more penetrating versions of traditional objections to that theory.
Property-identical divine-command theory (PDCT) is the view that being obligatory is identical to being commanded by God in just the way that being water is identical to being H2O. If these identity statements are true, then they express necessary a posteriori truths. PDCT has been defended in Robert M. Adams (1987) and William Alston (1990). More recently Mark C. Murphy (2002) has argued that property-identical divine-command theory is inconsistent with two well-known and well-received theses: the free-command (...) thesis and the supervenience thesis. I show that Murphy's argument is vitiated by mistaken assumptions about the substitutivity of metaphysical identicals in contexts of supervenience. The free-command thesis and the supervenience thesis therefore pose no serious threat to PDCT. (Published Online August 11 2004). (shrink)
One of the most important recent developments in the discussion of Kierkegaard's ethics is an interpretation defended, in different forms, by Philip Quinn and Stephen Evans. Both argue that a divine-command theory of moral obligation (DCT) is to be found in "Works of Love". Against this view, I argue that, despite significant overlap between DCT and the view of moral obligation found in "Works of Love", there is at least one essential difference between the two: the former, but (...) not the latter, is committed to the claim that, necessarily, p is morally obligatory only if God commands that p. (shrink)
In this study, I will examine the famous 'divine command theory' of Mozi. Through the discussion of several important chapters of Mozi, including Fayi (law), Tianzhi (the will of heaven), Minggui (knowing the spirits) and Jianai (universal love), I attempt to clarify the arguments of Mozi offered in support of his distinctive ideas of serving heaven, knowing the spirits and loving all. The analysis shows that there are serious problems with his assumptions, hence they fail to support his (...) conclusions as to the heaven-human relationship, and the man-man relationship. That is to say, at least in the texts covered, Mozi did not justify the moral or social relationship in society by appealing to the religious relationship. (shrink)
If the divine will is not subject to any principle, and God controls all truths including moral truths, morality will be arbitrary at the deepest level. It will not be possible to offer any explanation of why God has willed certain actions rather than their contraries. Throughout the history of philosophical debate there have been many attempts to support the dependence of moral truths on God's command (or divine command theory) and at the same time to avoid (...) this charge of arbitrariness. In the West, one such an attempt has been made by Thomas V. Morris and Christopher Menzel (, hereafter M&M), who refer to their position as theistic activism. In this paper I will discuss their view and argue that: 1) their position does not satisfy the requirements of divine freedom, and that 2) to regard moral truths as necessary and unalterable is not adequate. (shrink)
I offer a series of axiomatic formalizations of Divine Command Theory motivated by certain methodological considerations. Given these considerations, I present what I take to be the best axiomatization of Divine Command Theory, an axiomatization which requires a non-standardsemantics for quantified modal logic.
We claim that divine command metaethicists have not thought through the nature of the expression of divine love with sufficient rigor. We argue, against prior divine command theories, that the radical difference between God and the natural world means that grounding divine command in divine love can only ground a formal claim of the divine on the human; recipients of revelation must construct particular commands out of this formal claim. While some metaethicists might respond (...) to us by claiming that this account leads to an inability to judge between better and worse constructions of the commanded life, we propose that an analysis of the human response to divine love--theological eros--can be the basis for an articulation of a philosophical theology (in our case, negative theology) that can guide the religious believer toward generating particular principles for ethical action that are grounded in an account of divine action. By linking divine command to imitatio Dei, the believer can have confidence that her imitative acts of God are not inaccurate constructions of the commanded life. (shrink)
In this essay, I present three arguments for the claim that theists should reject divine command theory (DCT) in favor of divine attitude theory (DAT). First, DCT (but not DAT) implies that some cognitively normal human persons are exempt from the dictates of morality. Second, it is incumbent upon us to cultivate the skill of moral judgment, a skill that fits nicely with the claims of DAT but which is superfluous if DCT is true. Third, an (...) attractive and widely shared conception of Jewish/Christian religious devotion leads us naturally to an attitude-based conception of morality rather than a command-based one. (shrink)
At the outset of The Possibility of Altruism Thomas Nagel charts two paths out of the fundamental dilemma confronting metaethics. The first path rejects the claim that a persuasive account of the motivational backing of ethical judgments must involve an agent’s desires. But it is the second path, a path that Nagel charts but does not himself take, that is the focus of this essay. This path retains the standard account, upon which all motivation involves desire, but denies that (...) desires are given prior to reason. Instead, these attitudes that motivate are themselves open to rational assessment. One reason for this focus is that many philosophers, including Quinn, Raz, and Scanlon, have come to reject the claim Nagel takes to block this path – that desires are somehow given prior to reason, hence are not in the relevant way proper objects of rational assessment. A second reason is that unlike the first path, this second does not require the rejection of the belief-desiretheory, only the rejection of one assumption about the nature of conative attitudes. Unlike Nagel’s chosen path, then, the second holds out the prospect of reconciling ethical objectivity, internalism, and the belief-desiretheory within a unified account. I argue that the account of desire found in Quinn, Raz, and Scanlon, augmented by aspects of Davidson’s account of propositional attitudes, yields a coherent account of the involvement of reason even in basic desires, an account that is well suited to Nagel’s intriguing path not taken. (shrink)
This essay presents a theistic account of deontic properties that can lay claim to many of the advantages of divine command theory but which avoids its flaws. The account, divine attitude theory, asserts that moral properties should be understood in terms of agent-directed divine attitudes, such that it is morally wrong for an agent to perform an action just in case God would be displeased with the agent for performing that action. Among the virtues of (...) this account is its ability to explain the modal status of fundamental moral truths, something that divine command theory cannot do. (shrink)
Divine law theories of metaethics claim that moral rightness is grounded in God’s commands, wishes and so forth. Expressivist theories, by contrast, claim that to call something morally right is to express our own attitudes, not to report on God’s. Ostensibly, such views are incompatible. However, we shall argue that a rapprochement is possible and beneficial to both sides. Expressivists need to explain the difference between reporting and expressing an attitude, and to address the Frege-Geach problem. Divine law (...) theorists need to get past the Euthyphro dilemma, and to avoid moral externalism. This paper shows how a combined theory helps us to achieve this. (shrink)
This paper argues that the standard account of posthumous harm is untenable. The standard account presupposes the desire-fulfillment theory of welfare, but I argue that no plausible version of this theory can allow for the possibility of posthumous harm. I argue that there are, at least, two problems with the standard account from the perspective of a desire-fulfillment theorist. First, as most desire-fulfillment theorists acknowledge, the theory must be restricted in such a way that (...) only those desires that pertain to one’s own life count in determining one’s welfare. The problem is that no one has yet provided a plausible account of which desires these are such that desires for posthumous prestige and the like are included. Second and more importantly, if the desire-fulfillment theory is going to be at all plausible, it must, I argue, restrict itself not only to those desires that pertain to one’s own life but also to those desires that are future independent, and this would rule out the possibility of posthumous harm. If I’m right, then even the desire-fulfillment theorist should reject the standard account of posthumous harm. We cannot plausibly account for posthumous harm in terms of desire fulfillment (or the lack thereof). (shrink)
There is a lively debate about the descriptive concept of happiness. What do we mean when we say (using the word to express this descriptive concept) that a person is “happy”? One prominent answer is subjective local desire satisfactionism. On this view, to be happy at a time is to believe, with respect to the things that you want to be true at that time, that they are true. Wayne Davis developed and defended an interesting and sophisticated version of (...) this view in a series of papers. I present, explain, and attempt to refute his version of the theory. I then sketch what I take to be a better theory of happiness -- a form of intrinsic attitudinal hedonism. (shrink)
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 action. I argue that the realist who adopts a Humean model for explaining rational action will have a difficult time giving a plausible account of the role that desire plays in this explanation. I explore four interpretations of this role and argue that none allows a Humean theory to explain rational action as convincingly as an anti-Humean theory does. The first two models, in different ways, make acting on a reason impossible. The third allows this possibility, but only by positing a reason-sensitive desire that itself demands an explanation. The fourth avoids this explanatory challenge only by retreating to an empty form of the Humean view. In contrast, an anti-Humean theory can provide an intuitively plausible explanation of rational action. I conclude that the realist about reasons should adopt an anti-Humean theory to explain rational action. (shrink)
What is suspense and how is it created? An answer to this question constitutes a theory of suspense. I propose that any theory of suspense needs to be able to account for three curious features: (1) Suspense is seldom felt in our daily lives, but frequently felt in response to works of fiction and other narrative artworks. [Narrative Imbalance] (2) It is widely thought that suspense requires uncertainty, but we often feel suspense in response to narratives when we (...) have knowledge of the outcome. [Paradox of Suspense] (3) The amount of suspense felt in response to a narrative typically diminishes on repeated encounters. [Diminishing Returns] I offer a theory of suspense that can explain these three features. I argue for a theory called the Desire-Frustration Theory of Suspense, which holds that suspense results when our desire to effect the outcome of an imminent event is frustrated. (shrink)
In this article we take issue with theorytheory and simulation theory accounts of folk psychology committed to (i) the belief-desire (BD) model and (ii) the assumption of universality (AU). Recent studies cast doubt on the compatibility of these commitments because they reveal considerable cross-cultural differences in folk psychologies. We present both theorytheory and simulation theory with the following dilemma: either (i) keep the BD-model as an account of the surface properties of (...) specific explicit folk psychologies and give up AU in light of the cross-cultural evidence; or (ii) defend AU with respect to core capacities underlying different culture-specific folk psychologies, and explain why the BD-model will be genuinely explanatory at this level. (shrink)
Several interpretive disagreements about Kant's theory of divine commands (esp. in the work of Allen Wood and John E. Hare) can be resolved with further attention to Kant's works. It is argued that Kant's moral theism included (at least until 1797) the claim that practical reason, reflecting upon the absolute authority of the moral law, should lead finite rational beings like us to believe that there exists an omnipotent, omniscient and holy being who commands our obedience to the (...) moral law and proportions happiness to virtue. Kant's apparently contradictory claims about the relationship between morality and religion reflect his view that our acceptance of the authority of the moral law is incomplete or rationally unstable absent such a theological postulate. (shrink)
Paul Ludwig examines how and why Greek theorists treated political passions as erotic. Because of the tiny size of ancient Greek cities, contemporary theory and ideology could conceive of entire communities based on desire. A recurrent aspiration was to transform the polity into one great household that would bind the citizens together through ties of mutual affection. In this study, Ludwig evaluates sexuality, love, and civic friendship as sources of political attachment and as bonds of political association.
Collection of original essays on the theory of desire by Robert Audi, Annette Baier, Wayne Davis, Ronald de Sousa, Robert Gordon, O.H. Green, Joel Marks, Dennis Stampe, Mitchell Staude, Michael Stocker, and C.C.W. Taylor.
This paper distinguishes two conceptions of representation at work in the philosophical literature. On the first, "contentive" conception (found, for example, in Searle and Fodor), something is a representation, roughly, if it has "propositional content". On the second, "indicative" conception (found, for example, in Dretske), representations must not only have content but also have the function of indicating something about the world. Desire is representational on the first view but not on the second. This paper argues that philosophers and (...) psychologists have sometimes conflated these two conceptions, and it examines the consequences of this conflation for the developmental literature on the child's understanding of mind. Specifically, recent research by Gopnik and Perner on the child's understanding of desire is motivated by an argument that equivocates between the two conceptions of representation. Finally, the paper suggests that an examination of when the child understands the possibility of misrepresentation in art would be helpful in charting the child's understanding of indicative representation. (shrink)
What I set out to do is to cast some doubt on the thesis that, in Bernard Williams''s words, any appeal to God in morality either adds nothing at all, or it adds the wrong sort of thing. A first conclusion is that a morality of real, inescapable and (sometimes) for the agent costly obligations, while being at home in a theistic metaphysic, does not sit easily with metaphysical, atheistic naturalism. The second conclusion is that Christine Korsgaard''s impressive ethical project (...) which is neutral towards theism and atheism fails in giving a satisfying account of such obligations. My final claim is that a theistic account in terms of a strong divine command theory might succeed where non- and atheistic accounts seem to founder. (shrink)
Because she is widely regarded in the field of contemporary philosophy of religion, Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski's latest book will be a major contribution to ethical theory and theological ethics. At the core of her work lies a new form of virtue theory based on the emotions. Distinct from deontological, consequentialist and teleological virtue theories, this theory has a particular theological Christian foundation.
Nearly all attempts to include Aquinas among the class of divine command theorists have focused on two kinds of texts: those exhibiting Aquinas’s treatment of the apparent immoralities of the patriarchs (e.g., Abraham’s intention to kill Isaac), and those pertaining to Aquinas’s discussion of the divine will. In the present paper, I lay out a third approach unrelated to these two. I argue that Aquinas’s explicit endorsement of one ethical proposition as self-evident throughout his writings is sufficient justification (...) to include Aquinas among the class of divine command theorists. I examine Aquinas’s persistent contention that the proposition “the commands of God are to be obeyed” is a self-evident or per se nota proposition of ethical reasoning, and I then trace Aquinas’s appeals to it in the Sentences commentary, De Veritate, and Quodlibet 3. I conclude with a discussion of passages where Aquinas argues that the experience of moral necessity or obligation requires reference to divine commands. (shrink)
Theory-of-mind (ToM) involves modeling an individual’s mental states to plan one’s action and to anticipate others’ actions through recursive reasoning that may be myopic (with limited recursion) or predictive (with full recursion). ToM recursion was examined using a series of two-player, sequential-move matrix games with a maximum of three steps. Participants were assigned the role of Player I, controlling the initial and the last step, or of Player II, controlling the second step. Appropriate for the assigned role, participants either (...) anticipated or planned Player II’s strategy at the second step, and then determined Player I’s optimal strategy at the first step. Participants more readily used predictive reasoning as Player II (i.e., planning one’s own move) than as Player I (i.e., anticipating an opponent’s move), although they did not differ when translating reasoning outcome about the second step to optimal action in the first step. Perspective-taking influenced likelihood of predictive reasoning, but it did not affect the rate at which participants acquired it during the experimental block. We conclude that the depth of ToM recursion (related to perspective-taking mechanisms) and rational application of belief–desire to action (instrumental rationality) constitute separate cognitive processes in ToM reasoning. (shrink)
In line with his theory of secularization according to which all significant concepts of the modern theory of the state are secularized theological concepts, Carl Schmitt argues in Constitutional Theory that people’s (Volk) constitution-making power in modern democracy is analogical to God’s potestas constituens in medieval theology. It is also undoubtedly possible to find a resemblance between Schmitt’s constitution-making power and God’s power as it is described in medieval theology. In the same sense as the constitution-making power (...) is absolutely free from all normative ties, God’s potestas constituens, or rather, God’s potentia absoluta is free from such ties. Yet, unlike the Schmittian constitution-making power, God’s potentia absoluta was not, in medieval theology, originally intended as a description of some form of divine action: the absolute power of God referred to the total possibilities initially open to God. However, when the canonists started to employ the term potentia absoluta in their speculations concerning the papal plenitude of power (plenitude potestatis) by the end of the thirteenth century, they used it in a different sense than the theologians previously. According to certain canonists, the pope, by his potentia absoluta, could grant de facto dispensations from divine and ecclesiastical laws. Later on, this notion became a theological notion as well, but given its origin in juridical discourse, the constitution-making power, rather than being a secularized theological notion, is a theologized juristic notion. (shrink)
It is widely believed that the Divine Command Theory is untenable due to the Euthyphro Dilemma. This article first examines the Platonic dialogue of that name, and shows that Socrates’s reasoning is faulty. Second, the dilemma in the form in which many contemporary philosophers accept it is examined in detail, and this reasoning is also shown to be deficient. This is not to say, however, that the Divine Command Theory is true—merely that one popular argument for (...) rejecting it is unsound. Finally, some brief thoughts are presented concerning where the real problems lie for the theory. (shrink)
This paper argues that, in light of Dead Sea apple cases, we should reject desire-fulfillment welfare theories (DF theories). Dead Sea apples are apples that look attractive while hanging on the tree, but which dissolve into smoke or ashes once plucked. Accordingly, Dead Sea apple cases are cases where an agent desires something and then gets it, only to find herself disappointed by what she has gotten. This paper covers both actual DF theories and hypothetical (or idealized) DF theories. (...) On actual DF theories the agent’s well-being is determined by her actual desires, while on hypothetical DF theories the agent’s well-being is determined by the desires that she would have if she were fully and vividly informed with respect to non-evaluative information. Various actual and hypothetical DF theory responses to Dead Sea apple objections are considered, and all such responses are argued to be inadequate. (shrink)
Hume said that the reasons that determine the rationality of one's actions are the desires one has when acting: one's actions are rational iff they advance these desires. Thomas Nagel says this entails calling rational, actions absurdly conflicting in aims over time. For one might have reason, in one's current desires, to begin trying to cause states one foresees having reason, in one's foreseen desires, to prevent. Instead, then, real reasons must be timeless, so that current and foreseen reasons cannot (...) conflict. I say the desiretheory does not have absurd consequences. A rational agent's desires would rationally evolve, never requiring actions conflicting in aims over time, except where it was instrumentally rational for her to change in her desires, whence such conflicts are rationally appropriate. Further, whatever sorts of things count as real reasons, since reasons can rationally require their own revision, they cannot be necessarily timeless. (shrink)
1YJ.Y aim here is to make sense of Plato's account of desire in the ... But that conclusion can be justified only if attempts to reconcile the two theories end in failure. The attempt must be made first. This is primarily a historical project, but one with some con.
John Hare has proposed “prescriptive realism” in an attempt to stake out a middle-ground position in the twentieth century Anglo-American debates concerning metaethics between substantive moral realists and antirealist-expressivists. The account is supposed to preserve both the normativity and objectivity of moral judgments. Hare defends a version of divine command theory. The proposal succeeds in establishing the middle-ground position Hare intended. However, I argue that prescriptive realism can be strengthened in an interesting way.