Reasons From The Humean Perspective



Humeans about practical reasoning have tried to explain how some of our desires are reason-giving and some are not. On one account, we act from reasons only when we act on desires that cohere in a consistent set. On another account, we act on reasons only when we act on desires that do not undermine our values. Both accounts are problematic. First, the notion of a consistent set of desires is vague and introduces a criterion not necessarily rooted in the agent's own motivations. Second, valuing is a matter of degree: we cannot divide desires into those that reflect values and those that don't. I maintain instead that (1) all desires are reason-giving, but we have best reason to do what we most care about, and (2) the rationality of desires derives from the normative perspective we take on our desires in attempting to determine their relative importance to us.