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Doing Things for Reasons$
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Rüdiger Bittner

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143645

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195143647.001.0001

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Desire and Belief

Desire and Belief

(p.3) One Desire and Belief
Doing Things for Reasons

Rüdiger Bittner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Examines the desire‐belief‐theory, as presented, for example, in the work of Donald Davidson, which holds that a reason for which somebody does something is a combination of a desire and a belief of the agent. Widely accepted, this theory is seldom defended, the most explicit argument being due to Michael Smith. However, not only is his argument found wanting on a number of counts but the desire‐belief‐theory also gives desire and belief incompatible roles to fulfill. Desire is asked both to set a goal and to provide the impulse for pursuing it, and, correspondingly, belief is held to give the agent guidance both in the sense of informing and in the sense of directing him or her.

Keywords:   action, belief, Davidson, desire, goal, guidance, reason for action, Michael Smith

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