Reasons and Persons (Oxford Paperbacks) by Derek Parfit

By Derek Parfit

Demanding, with a number of strong arguments, a few of our inner most ideals approximately rationality, morality, and private id, Parfit claims that we've got a fake view approximately our personal nature. it's always rational to behave opposed to our personal top pursuits, he argues, and such a lot people have ethical perspectives which are self-defeating. we regularly act wrongly, even if we all know there'll be not anyone with critical grounds for criticism, and after we contemplate destiny generations it's very tough to prevent conclusions that the majority folks will locate very stressful.

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For Bratman, certain questions seem naturally to follow from intention as a state of mind. For example, he considers that a theory of future intentions needs to explain ‘why we ever bother to form them’, but here Bratman assumes that we do form intentions. Whilst naturally I can decide to have an intention (as I can decide to visit Mercury) my decision is neither necessary nor sufficient for intentional action nor is a held intention produced from it; indeed nothing needs to be added to the fact that I have made a decision to form an intention.

In succeeding, the agent has intentionally made the ten copies but there is no corresponding knowledge of his success (of the non-observational or any other kind). But, for Anscombe, non-observational knowledge is not something ‘exercised’ to tell us what we are doing; it is rather present as intentional action. That the intentional action coincides with our non-observational knowledge is, in all cases, a tautological truth. Her problem in accommodating Davidson’s example does not reflect flaws in her account of non-observational knowledge; rather it is a feature of Anscombe’s too restrictive position on intentional action, one that ties it to (motivational) reason only.

For a convincing account of why reasons might not have this power see Hacker (alluding to Wittgenstein’s example); ‘Suppose I form the decision to pull the bell rope at five o’clock (I want to call the butler and believe that by pulling the rope I shall do so). The clock strikes five. Should I now wait patiently for my arm to go up? ’ Peter Hacker, Human Nature: the Categorical Framework (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) 272. Of course this issue cannot be dealt with in any great depth here although the account of intentional action to be proposed certainly rules out the idea that intentions can cause anything.

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