Book

Reasons from Within

Alan H. Goldman

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199576906
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722288 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199576906.001.0001
Reasons from Within

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Do the reasons we have for acting as we do derive from our concerns and desires, or are there objective values in the world that we are rationally required to pursue and protect? This book argues for the internalist or subjectivist view of practical reasons on the grounds that it is simpler, more unified, and more comprehensible than the rival objectivist position. It provides a naturalistic account of practical rationality in terms of coherence within sets of desires, and between motivations, intentions, and actions. Coherence is defined as the avoidance of self-defeat; the defeat of one's own deepest concerns. The demand for coherence underlies both practical and theoretical reason, and derives from the natural aims of belief and action. In clarifying which desires create reasons, this book offers analyses of desires, emotions, and attitudes. Reasons are seen to derive ultimately from our deepest concerns, which provide reasons for many more superficial desires. In defense of this theory, the book argues that rational agents need not be morally motivated or concerned for their narrow self-interest. Objective values would demand such concern. They would be independent of our desires, but would provide reasons for us to pursue and protect them. However, the book argues, we are not motivated in that way, and it makes no sense to demand that our informed and coherent desires be generally other than they are. We need not appeal to such objective values in order to explain how our lives can be good and meaningful.

Keywords: reasons; rationality; internalism; objective values; desires; coherence; naturalism

Book.  284 pages. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Debate in Reasons from Within

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Reasons and Rationality in Reasons from Within

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The Externalist's Examples in Reasons from Within

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Conclusion in Reasons from Within

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