Chapter

Desire-Based Theories of Reasons, Pleasure, and Welfare<sup>1</sup>

Chris Heathwood

in Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780199606375
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729478 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606375.003.0004
Desire-Based Theories of Reasons, Pleasure, and Welfare1

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One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one's desires (broadly construed) provide one with reasons to act. On the value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories of two other phenomena: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about either pleasure or welfare commits one to recognizing that desires do provide reasons for action – i.e., commits one to abandoning the value-based theory of reasons. The purpose of this chapter is to show that this is not so. All of the following can be true: pleasure and welfare provide reasons; pleasure and welfare are to be understood in terms of desire; desires never provide reasons, in the relevant way.

Keywords: reasons; reasons internalism; desire-based theory of reasons; reasons externalism; value-based theory of reasons; pleasure; welfare; well-being; preferentism; desire-satisfaction theory of welfare

Chapter.  13008 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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