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Abstract

Harry Frankfurt has claimed that some of our desires are ‘internal’, i.e., our own in a special sense. I defend the idea that a desire's being internal matters in a normative, reasons-involving sense, and offer an explanation for this fact. The explanation is Kantian in spirit. We have reason to respect the desires of persons in so far as respecting them is a way to respect the persons who have them (in some cases, ourselves). But if desires matter normatively in so far as they belong to persons, then it matters whether they really do belong to the persons who have them. Thus Kantian considerations explain why identification (or internality) is a normatively relevant category. This account is superior to others, and does not lead to reasons bootstrapping or a self-centred conception of deliberation.