The Teleological Conception of Practical Reasons

Mind 120 (477):117-153 (2011)
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It is through our actions that we affect the way the world goes. Whenever we face a choice of what to do, we also face a choice of which of various possible worlds to actualize. Moreover, whenever we act intentionally, we act with the aim of making the world go a certain way. It is only natural, then, to suppose that an agent's reasons for action are a function of her reasons for preferring some of these possible worlds to others, such that what she has most reason to do is to bring about the possible world which, of all those available to her, is the one that she has most reason to want to obtain. This is what is known as the `teleological conception of practical reasons'. Whether this is the correct conception of practical reasons is important not only in its own right, but also in virtue of its potential implications for what sort of moral theory we should accept. Below, I argue that the teleological conception is indeed the correct conception of practical reasons



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Douglas W. Portmore
Arizona State University

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What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
What We Owe to Each Other.Thomas Scanlon - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):323-354.
Moral realism: a defence.Russ Shafer-Landau - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Value in ethics and economics.Elizabeth Anderson - 1993 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

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