The Teleological Conception of Practical Reasons

Douglas W. Portmore

in Commonsense Consequentialism

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199794539
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919260 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Moral Theory

The Teleological Conception of Practical Reasons

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The chapter argues that since our actions are the means by which we affect the way the world goes, and since our intentional actions aim at making the world go a certain way, we should hold that what agents have most reason to do is to act so as to make the world go as they have most reason to want it to go. More precisely, an agent's reasons for action are a function of her reasons for preferring certain possible worlds to others, such that what she has most reason to do is to bring about the possible world, which of all she can actualize through her actions, is the one that she has most reason to want to be actual. This is what's known as the teleological conception of practical reasons, and it is argued that this view is unsurpassed in its ability to systematize our considered convictions about practical reasons.

Keywords: teleology; practical reasons; buck-passing; desires; value; desirability; T. M. Scanlon; Elizabeth Anderson

Chapter.  16609 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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