Desires, Whims and Values

The Journal of Ethics 7 (3):315-335 (2003)
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Neo-Humean instrumentalists hold that anagent's reasons for acting are grounded in theagent's desires. Numerous objections have beenleveled against this view, but the mostcompelling concerns the problem of ``aliendesires'' – desires with which the agent doesnot identify. The standard version ofneo-Humeanism holds that these desires, likeany others, generate reasons for acting. Avariant of neo-Humeanism that grounds anagent's reasons on her values, rather than allof her desires, avoids this implication, but atthe cost of denying that we have reasons to acton innocent whims. A version of neo-Humeanismthat holds that an agent has reason to satisfyall of her desires that are not in conflictwith her values appears to allow us to grantthe reason-giving force of innocent whims whiledenying the reason-giving force of alien desires.

Author's Profile

Donald Hubin
Ohio State University


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