A Reason to Know

Journal of Value Inquiry 57 (3):557-575 (2023)
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It is often thought that desire-based versions of reasons internalism, according to which our practical reasons depend on what we desire, are committed to denying that we have any categorical reasons. I shall argue, however, that such theories are committed to a universal desire which gives rise to an unexpected categorical reason – a reason to know our surroundings. I will arrive at this conclusion by using Fichte’s argument for thinking that security from unpredictable and powerful forces of nature is constitutive of agency. Fichte thinks this is the case because we ought to aim at knowledge of our surroundings, and such environments uniquely facilitate it. I show that his argument fails, but the point that we ought to aim at – or desire – such knowledge is fundamentally sound. This aim can then be leveraged to generate a categorical reason when embedded in an account of agency typically embraced by internalists.

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Olof Leffler
Università degli Studi di Siena


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