The Introduction sets out the aim of the book, which is to contribute to a better understanding of reasons in the context of human action. Some of the questions the book addresses are: What are reasons? Are there different kinds of reasons? Are reasons beliefs and desires? If not, how are they related to beliefs and desires? And what role do these play in motivating and explaining actions?
It outlines three basic claims which underpin some of the major views and arguments defended in the book: that all reasons are facts; that discussions about reasons have been afflicted by an act/object ambiguity inherent in the terms ‘belief’ and ‘desire’; and that in understanding actions performed for a reason, we need to distinguish between motivation and explanation; that is, between the task of identifying and characterizing what motivates an agent, and what explains his action.
The Introduction also lays out some of the main doctrines defended in the book—outlined in the following chapter summaries.
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