Affective Deliberation: Toward a Humean Account of Practical Reasons

Dissertation, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey - New Brunswick (2000)
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On a Humean account, a person's reasons for action are determined by her desires---in the broadest sense of 'desires', that is, noncognitive pro-attitudes. In four essays, I defend this account against several prominent objections. The first essay addresses the concern that the Humean cannot account for rationalizing reasons . The next three essays concern justifying reasons : reasons for action that are more fully normative than those that merely make action intelligible. Instrumental reasons, prudential reasons, and intrinsic reasons are three different sorts of reasons to which an agent can appeal in justifying her action. ;Each essay focuses on a specific attack against the Humean account. In the second essay I argue that the normatively of instrumental reasons is brute ; and that, contrary to the received view, this is compatible with Humeanism. In the third essay I consider prudential reasons and defend the Humean claim that all and only present concerns provide normative reasons for action. In the final essay I address the fundamental question considerations of deliberative relevance: what makes certain desires and considerations relevant to a specific decision-making context, that is, what puts them among a person's present active reasons. ;In addition to defending a broadly Humean account of practical reasons, I am concerned to expand the components of a plausible form of Humeanism. Specifically, I argue that desires alone are not always sufficient to ground an agent's reasons, and that affective states are sometimes also necessary. I call this view "thick Humeanism". In essays one and four especially, I urge that a central place be given to affective states in determining practical reasons. I also invoke recent studies in cognitive psychology to support my claims about the role of the emotions in practical deliberation
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