Prudence and the Temporal Structure of Practical Reasons

Duncan MacIntosh

in Weakness of Will and Practical Irrationality

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780199257362
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601842 | DOI:
 Prudence and the Temporal Structure of Practical Reasons

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According to a Humean present‐aim theory of rationality, there is no rational requirement of prudence: it is not rationally obligatory to act in light of one's foreseen future desires as well as one's current desires. It might therefore seem that on this view the acts of a rational agent could be absurdly incoherent over time. The author rebuts this worry by showing how the present‐aim approach to rationality itself generates rational constraints on the evolution of desires and hence of reasons. More generally, the author argues that reasons, whatever they are, are time‐relative rather than timeless.

Keywords: coherence; desires; Thomas Nagel present‐aim theory; prudence; rationality; reasons

Chapter.  10494 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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