Desire-Based Theories of Reasons, Pleasure and Welfare

Oxford Studies in Metaethics 6:79-106 (2011)
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Abstract

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 phenomena: 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.

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Chris Heathwood
University of Colorado, Boulder

Citations of this work

The distinctive feeling theory of pleasure.Ben Bramble - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 162 (2):201-217.
A Contemporary Account of Sensory Pleasure.Murat Aydede - 2018 - In Lisa Shapiro (ed.), Pleasure: A History. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 239-266.
Attitudinal and Phenomenological Theories of Pleasure.Eden Lin - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (3):510-524.

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Slaves of the passions.Mark Andrew Schroeder - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.

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