Chapter

Aims as Reasons*

Niko Kolodny

in Reasons and Recognition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199753673
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918829 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199753673.003.0003
Aims as Reasons*

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Along with many other contemporary philosophers, T.M. Scanlon argues that our present attitudes (such as beliefs, desires, or intentions) do not give us reasons. At the core of this position, I suggest, is the denial that attitudes can provide reasons in some way different from the way in which things of value characteristically provide reasons. I then try to answer a challenge to this position, which Scanlon himself raises: that sometimes (especially when one’s reasons underdetermine a choice among aims) having an aim seems to affect one’s reasons without affecting one’s value-provided reasons. If “having an aim” is understood as having an intention, I suggest, then having an aim usually will affect one’s value-provided reasons. In large part, this is because of what Scanlon calls the “predictive significance” of intention: the fact that forming an intention changes what the future is likely to bring. If “having an aim” is understood instead as an aim’s “mattering” or “being important” to one, then having an aim can also affect one’s value-provided reasons, but in a different way: by constituting a special kind of value.

Keywords: Scanlon; reasons; value; intention; underdetermination

Chapter.  20416 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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