The Possibility of Altruism by Thomas Nagel

By Thomas Nagel

This paintings in philosophy is a rigorous ebook in ethics and philosophy which units up logical and rational reasons of altruistic behavior.

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Thirst by itself does not motivate such technical undertakings; an understanding of currency and the protocol of vending machines is essential. But when these factors have been added to the explanation, we still lack an account of how they combine with the thirst to produce action. I think it is very important to resist the temptation to close this gap by expanding the original desire for drink, or by adding another desire. It is of course true that when one sees that the only way to get a drink is to put a dime in the slot, one then wants to put a dime in the slot.

Every reason can be formulated as a predicate. • Such a predicate provides reasons both primarily and derivatively: primarily, for things to which it applies, and derivatively, for things which promote that to which it applies primarily. All the reasons thus provided are only prima facie reasons, and given almost any event for whose occurrence there are prima facie reasons, it will also be possible to discover prima facie reasons for its non-occurrence. Since it is people who have reasons- to act or to refrain, to promote or to prevent things-the general description of how reasons operate should show this.

T hing, has only a very limited application. See lntnt&o (Oxford: Blackwell, 1957), PP· 69-7•· Copyrighted material PRUDENTIAL MOTIVES AND THE PRESENT 45 reasons they are merely whims, to which it is irrational to attach excessive importance. One might for no reason at all conceive a desire that there should be parsley on the moon, and do what one could to smuggle some into the next available rocket; one might simply like the idea. But this is not the alleged status of the proposed prudential desire; it is supposed to be something far more serious than a whim, something which exerts decisive claims on our rational conduct.

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