Scanlon on Desire and the Explanation of Action
T. M. Scanlon claims that insofar as ’having a desire’ is understood as a state that is distinct from ’seeing something as a reason,’ it plays almost no role in the justification and explanation of action. Since in the standard story of action desire is understood as a behavioral disposition, and since in that story every action is explained by desire, so understood, and since a desire so understood is a distinct state from seeing something as a reason, it follows that Scanlon sets himself against the standard story of action. In my paper I begin by explaining the attractions of the standard story of action and then I examine Scanlon’s reasons for thinking that desire, understood in the way in which it is in that story, plays almost no role in the explanation of action.
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