Desire-based Reasons, Naturalism, and Tolerable Revisionism: Lessons from Moore and Parfit

Cuadernos de Anuario Filosófico 212:49-57 (2009)
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My aim in this paper is to critically assess the idea that reasons for action are provided by desires (the Desire-based Reasons Model or the Model). I start from the claim that the most often employed meta-ethical background for the Model is ethical naturalism; I then consider attempts to argue against the Model through its naturalism. I make use of two objections that are both intended to refute naturalism per se. One is the indirect version of G. E. Moore’s Open Question Argument (OQA), the other is Derek Parfit’s more recent Triviality Objection (TO). I show that naturalists might be able to avoid both objections in case the reduction they propose is tolerable. This, however, means that in order to see if the objections work, we must analyze the particular reductions proposed. Hence, though not knock down arguments as they were intended to be, the indirect OQA and TO may pose threat to the Model.

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Attila Tanyi
University of Tromsø


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