Desire and What It’s Rational to Do

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (4):761-775 (2021)
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It is often taken for granted that our desires can contribute to what it is rational for us to do. This paper examines an account of desire—the ‘guise of the good’— that promises an explanation of this datum. I argue that extant guise-of-the-good accounts fail to provide an adequate explanation of how a class of desires—basic desires—contributes to practical rationality. I develop an alternative guise-of-the-good account on which basic desires attune us to our reasons for action in virtue of their biological function. This account emphasises the role of desire as part of our competence to recognise and respond to normative reasons.

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Ashley Shaw
University of Leeds


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