Reason and Value [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 39 (3):556-558 (1986)

Deborah Achtenberg
University of Nevada, Reno
The title alludes to the central topic of the book, the relation between practical reason and value. We face a dilemma. Either practical reason is purely cognitive and so cannot motivate action, or practical reason is merely a function of an agent's actual desire in which case there can be no objective reasons for action. The stated purpose of the book is to provide a solution to the dilemma, a solution which retains the necessary connection between reason and motivation on the one hand and between reason and value on the other. The solution: All standard acts are done for reasons, for they are all done to satisfy some want. But, reasons for acting are of two kinds, motivating and grounding. Motivating reasons are intentional; a rationally motivated act is one done on the basis of what one takes to be a reason. Grounding reasons are factual; a rationally grounded act is one in which one really has the reason one thinks one has. Motivating reasons have a necessary connection to desire; grounding reasons have a necessary connection to value. But there is no necessary connection between desire and value, since there is none between motivating and grounding reasons. Value, then, is not a mere function of desire: one can be mistaken in one's belief that something is a reason for action; one can have a reason for acting of which one is unaware and which therefore does not generate a desire.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
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