Desire: Its Role in Practical Reason and the Explanation of Action

Desire: Its Role in Practical Reason and the Explanation of Action

by George F. Schueler

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Overview

Does action always arise out of desire? G.F. Schueler examines this hotly debated topic in philosophy of action and moral philosophy, arguing that once two senses of "desire" are distinguished—roughly, genuine desires and pro attitudes—apparently plausible explanations of action in terms of the agent's desires can be seen to be mistaken.

Does action always arise out of desire? G.F. Schueler examines this hotly debated topic in philosophy of action and moral philosophy, arguing that once two senses of "desire" are distinguished—roughly, genuine desires and pro attitudes—apparently plausible explanations of action in terms of the agent's desires can be seen to be mistaken.

Desire probes a fundamental issue in philosophy of mind, the nature of desires and how, if at all, they motivate and justify our actions. At least since Hume argued that reason "is and of right ought to be the slave of the passions," many philosophers have held that desires play an essential role both in practical reason and in the explanation of intentional action. G.F. Schueler looks at contemporary accounts of both roles in various belief-desire models of reasons and explanation and argues that the usual belief-desire accounts need to be replaced.

Schueler contends that the plausibility of the standard belief-desire accounts rests largely on a failure to distinguish "desires proper," like a craving for sushi, from so-called "pro attitudes," which may take the form of beliefs and other cognitive states as well as desires proper. Schueler's "deliberative model" of practical reasoning suggests a different view of the place of desire in practical reason and the explanation of action. He holds that we can arrive at an intention to act by weighing the relevant considerations and that these may not include desires proper at all.

A Bradford Book

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262528573
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 02/06/1995
Series: A Bradford Book
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Endorsement

Using as a point of departure the distinction between the philosophers' notion of desire, in which desires (or pro-attitudes) are essentially connected to action, and the ordinary notion, in which a person can do something without so desiring, Professor Schueler discusses critical issues dealing with human action, among them reasons for acting, the practical syllogism, justification and explanation of action and the folk psychological desire/belief model. Schueler's approach is well-informed and innovative; it advances the debate several critical steps.

Myles Brand, Philosophy Department, University of Oregon

From the Publisher

Using as a point of departure the distinction between the philosophers' notion of desire, in which desires (or pro-attitudes) are essentially connected to action, and the ordinary notion, in which a person can do something without so desiring, Professor Schueler discusses critical issues dealing with human action, among them reasons for acting, the practical syllogism, justification and explanation of action and the folk psychological desire/belief model. Schueler's approach is well-informed and innovative; it advances the debate several critical steps.

Myles Brand, Philosophy Department, University of Oregon

Myles Brand

Using as a point of departure the distinction between the philosophers' notion of desire, in which desires (or pro-attitudes) are essentially connected to action, and the ordinary notion, in which a person can do something without so desiring, Professor Schueler discusses critical issues dealing with human action, among them reasons for acting, the practical syllogism, justification and explanation of action and the folk psychological desire/belief model. Schueler's approach is well-informed and innovative; it advances the debate several critical steps.

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