Direction of Fit

In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Hoboken, NJ: Blackwell (2013)
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Abstract

The difference between cognitive and conative mental states, such as beliefs and desires, has sometimes been held to be that they have different “directions of fit” between the mind and the world – mind-to-world for beliefs and world-to-mind for desires (see Desire). Some philosophers have pursued the idea that if this thought can be given a plausible explanation it can be used to ground Hume's claim that “reason is the slave of the passions,” i.e., that no moral or other “practical” belief, e.g., about what is best or right to do, can ever by itself be enough to motivate action. A desire or desire-like state is always required (see Reason and Passion; Hume, David). This issue will be discussed below.

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G. F. Schueler
University of Delaware

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