Instrumentalism and Desiring at Will

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35 (2):269 - 288 (2005)
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In his book Practical Induction, Elijah Millgram mounts a powerful attack on instrumentalism. In particular, Millgram targets the instrumentalist claim that desires are by themselves reason-giving, that their reason-giving power is not grounded in any other independent fact. According to Millgram, desires, like beliefs, cannot license inferences if they do not depend for their own justification on some prior mental states. Beliefs depend on prior beliefs and desires on feelings of pleasure and these in turn are grounded respectively in facts about the world and about desirability. If our desires would not depend in this way on other facts it would be possible for us to rationally desire what we want when we want; we could, as he puts it, ‘desire at will.’



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Yonatan Shemmer
University of Sheffield

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References found in this work

The Normativity of Instrumental Reason.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1997 - In Garrett Cullity & Berys Nigel Gaut (eds.), Ethics and practical reason. New York: Oxford University Press.
Basic Actions.Arthur C. Danto - 1965 - American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (2):141 - 148.
What we can do.Arthur C. Danto - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (15):435-445.
Practical Induction.John Robertson - 1998 - Philosophical Quarterly 48 (192):379-384.

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