A niggle at Nagel: causally active desires and the explanation of action

In Constantine Sandis (ed.), New Essays on the Explanation of Action. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 220--40 (2009)
This paper criticizes an influential argument from Thomas Nagel’s THE POSSIBILTIY OF ALTRUISM, an argument that plays a foundational role in the philosophies of (at least) Philippa Foot, John McDowell and Jonathan Dancy. Nagel purports to prove that a person can be can be motivated to perform X by the belief that X is likely to bring about Y, without a causally active or biffy desire for Y. If Cullity and Gaut are to be believed (ETHICS AND PRACTICAL REASONING) this is widely regarded within the practical reasoning industry as an established fact. My thesis is a simple one. Nagel’s argument is an abject failure and the philosophies that are founded on it are built upon sand. There is a little bit of rather amateurish X-Phi at the end, but I don’t want readers to get too excited about this as it is essentially icing on the cake. This paper is not primarily an exercise in Experimental Philosophy but in Baby Logic, and it’s central thesis is a logical one, namely that Nagel (to put the point politely) fails to prove his thesis.
Keywords Thomas Nagel  John McDowell  Philippa Foot  Jonathan Dancy  Moral Psychology  Motivation  Desire  Biff  Practical Reasoning
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive Charles Pigden, A niggle at Nagel: causally active desires and the explanation of action
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

116 ( #38,847 of 1,925,792 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #87,728 of 1,925,792 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.