The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality

By Robert Audi | Go to book overview

5
DESIRES, INTENTIONS, AND
REASONS FOR ACTION

Rationally wanting to hear a concert gives me a reason to buy a ticket; rationally wanting to swim gives me a reason to go to the beach. These are not points about mere desire. In isolation from my experiences and beliefs, or under conditions that render these desires irrational, they would not give me reasons of the kind in question—practical reasons. They would also fail to do so if, for instance, I had no beliefs, or at least a basis for beliefs, about how to satisfy them. A desire for something that one has no idea how to get, even when it is insistent, does not point in any particular direction. If, agitated by such a desire, I think about my plight, I may form a further desire: to do something about my discomfort. That desire may be guided by beliefs about how to discover the needed means. But even if an utterly unguided desire can give rise to a further desire, it is not a spur to directed action. Desire without belief has no direction. If desire can express well-grounded reasons for action, it does not play its motivationally basic role entirely alone. Beliefs are also essential in this role. Without them, even if there could be rational desires as foundations for practical reason, there would be no adequate means of building a superstructure.


1. DESIRE AND INTENTION

The behavioral directionlessness of much desire is one reason we might hesitate to consider desire to be the fundamental practical attitude, that is, as basic in expressing practical reasons. A desire need not even be to do something. We want to know as well as to do, to be a certain kind of per-

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The Architecture of Reason: The Structure and Substance of Rationality
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction - Experience and Reason 3
  • Part I - Theoretical Reason 11
  • 1 - Groundwork 13
  • 2 - Superstructure 32
  • Part II - Practical Reason 59
  • 3 - Action, Belief, and Desire 61
  • 4 - The Sources of Practical Reasons 81
  • 5 - Desires, Intentions, and Reasons for Action 108
  • 6 - Others as Ends 135
  • Part III - Rationality and Relativity 169
  • 7 - Relativity, Plurality, and Culture 171
  • 8 - Global Rationality 195
  • Conclusion 227
  • Notes 235
  • Index 277
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