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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 5 TT08

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 5 TT08
Start Date 19th May 2008 4:30pm
End Date 19th May 2008 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

Chris Heathwood (Boulder): ‘Desire-based Theories of Welfare, of Pleasure, and of Reasons’ to be held in the Lecture Room, 10 Merton Street, Oxford - Seminars in Moral Philosophy webpage


One of the most important disputes in the foundations of ethics concerns the source of practical reasons. On the desire-based view, only one’s desires provide one with reasons to act. On the ­­value-based view, reasons are instead provided by the objective evaluative facts, and never by our desires. Similarly, there are desire-based and non-desired-based theories about two other issues: pleasure and welfare. It has been argued, and is natural to think, that holding a desire-based theory about either pleasure or welfare commits one to recognizing that desires do provide reasons for action – i.e., commits one to abandoning the value-based theory of reasons. The purpose of this paper is to show that this is not so, and indeed that combining a value-based theory of reasons with a desire-based theory of pleasure or welfare, or both, makes for a natural and attractive package. All of the following can be true: pleasure and welfare provide reasons; pleasure and welfare are to be understood in terms of desire; desires never provide reasons.

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