Ingmar Persson

in The Retreat of Reason

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199276905
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603198 | DOI:

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In this chapter the fact that desires have a direction of fit which is opposite to that of beliefs is employed to suggest that objectivism with respect to reasons for desire is implausible. Because desires are not formed to fit the world, but are rather formed to make the world fit their content, the idea of value as something desires must fit is not called for. Rather, desires fill their function if their object is something that one can bring about, thus satisfying the desire. It is maintained that this opposition as regards direction of fit explains why practical reasoning consists in the derivation of a desire for something which is sufficient for the end desired, while theoretical reasoning consists in the derivation of a belief whose truth is necessary if the premises are true. Some objectivist theories, e.g., John McDowell’s, are examined and rejected.

Keywords: belief; desire; direction of fit; John McDowell; objectivism; practical reasoning; theoretical reasoning

Chapter.  8518 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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